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    1. Decision Points
    2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    3. Unbroken: A World War II Story
    4. Pride and Prejudice
    5. A Christmas Carol
    6. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol.
    7. The Confession: A Novel
    8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly
    10. Watchlist
    11. Fairy Tales Every Child Should
    12. Fireflies in December
    13. Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister,
    14. Dracula
    15. Life
    16. Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery
    17. Treasure Island
    18. The Autobiography of Benjamin
    19. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
    20. Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical

    1. Decision Points
    by George W. Bush
    list price: $35.00 -- our price: $18.89
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0307590615
    Publisher: Crown
    Sales Rank: 2
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    In this candid and gripping account, President George W. Bush describes the critical decisions that shaped his presidency and personal life.

    George W. Bush served as president of the United States during eight of the most consequential years in American history. The decisions that reached his desk impacted people around the world and defined the times in which we live.

    Decision Points
    brings readers inside the Texas governor's mansion on the night of the 2000 election, aboard Air Force One during the harrowing hours after the attacks of September 11, 2001, into the Situation Room moments before the start of the war in Iraq, and behind the scenes at the White House for many other historic presidential decisions.

    For the first time, we learn President Bush's perspective and insights on:

    • His decision to quit drinking and the journey that led him to his Christian faith
    • The selection of the vice president, secretary of defense, secretary of state, Supreme Court justices, and other key officials
    • His relationships with his wife, daughters, and parents, including heartfelt letters between the president and his father on the eve of the Iraq War
    • His administration's counterterrorism programs, including the CIA's enhanced interrogations and the Terrorist Surveillance Program
    • Why the worst moment of the presidency was hearing accusations that race played a role in the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, and a critical assessment of what he would have done differently during the crisis
    • His deep concern that Iraq could turn into a defeat costlier than Vietnam, and how he decided to defy public opinion by ordering the troop surge
    • His legislative achievements, including tax cuts and reforming education and Medicare, as well as his setbacks, including Social Security and immigration reform
    • The relationships he forged with other world leaders, including an honest assessment of those he did and didn’t trust
    • Why the failure to bring Osama bin Laden to justice ranks as his biggest disappointment and why his success in denying the terrorists their fondest wish—attacking America again—is among his proudest achievements
    A groundbreaking new brand of presidential memoir, Decision Points will captivate supporters, surprise critics, and change perspectives on eight remarkable years in American history—and on the man at the center of events.

    Since leaving office, President George W. Bush has led the George W. Bush Presidential Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. The center includes an active policy institute working to advance initiatives in the fields of education reform, global health, economic growth, and human freedom, with a special emphasis on promoting social entrepreneurship and creating opportunities for women around the world. It will also house an official government archive and a state-of-the-art museum that will open in 2013. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Not what you might expect...
    "That is the nature of the presidency. Perceptions are shaped by the clarity of hindsight. In the moment of decision, you don't have that advantage." -G. Bush

    In a lot of ways this statement just about sums up the book. The President of the United States, maybe more so than any other person on the face of the Earth, has his/her every decision microscopically analyzed by just about everyone... after the fact, when the results are known and more information is available. I thought this to be a very interesting premise for a presidential memoir. It doesn't come across as an apology nor does it come across as an excuse. President Bush gives you the situation as he saw it and lets you make your own decision.

    I am not a huge fan of President Bush, but I don't think he is the utter failure as President that some consider him. I come away with some empathy (though short of being President, I don't think anyone could truly grasp the reality) for President Bush. Could things have been done better... more than likely. Could they have been worse... almost certainly... but how many of us couldn't apply those phrases to our own lives?

    If you are a Bush fan, I'd almost guarantee you'll like the book. If you aren't a fan.... you'll probably find some more ammunition to bash him. For myself, I don't at all regret the time spent reading the book and that is usually the measure that I put on literary material.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What you see is what you get - No question, this is written in HIS VOICE!!!

    The book is written thematically, not chronologically. This is important because it gives the book a much different flavor than one that is written month by month, and year by year. This book was not ghost written. This is his hand and his words, and it comes through on every page - all 512 of them.

    I had no expectations when I opened the cover other than to enjoy the book. I found it was written with a wonderful light hand, Bush being a story teller, no question about it. And he pulls no punches, he tells you the real deal and he does not filter it. Other people will write pro and con on this book depending upon their political filters. There will be none of that here. I am only interested in enjoying a book and telling you that you will also or maybe not.

    I am going to give you a flavoring of the book and you will know immediately if this is for you:

    * In the Presidency there are no do-over's

    * Quitting drinking was one of the toughest decisions he ever made

    * It wouldn't be the last time the student George Bush slept through a Yale lecture

    * He says he had the same personality as his mother. He would needle people to show affection and to make a point. He flares up rapidly. He and his mother both can be real blunt, a trait that gets them into trouble from time to time

    * Bush was enormously influenced by a history teacher on crutches at his prep school which was Andover Phillips Academy in Mass. His name was Tom Lyons (crippled by polio), and he nurtured, he hectored, he praised, and demanded a lot. He instilled in George Bush a love of history that remained with him throughout a lifetime.

    * Reverend William Sloan Coffin was a contemporary of the president's father, George HW Bush while both were at Yale. When George W. was a student at Yale, his father had just lost his bid to become a Senator from Texas. George W. asked the Reverend to perhaps write a letter to console his father, and the Reverend's former classmate. The Reverend responded, "Your father was beaten by a better man." I don't think the future President ever recovered from the remark.

    * Having spent considerable time in Texas over the last couple of decades I thoroughly enjoyed Texas wisdom which the President captures brilliantly in one statement. He refers to some people as "Book smart and sidewalk stupid".

    * He sums up his education by telling us that he went to Andover by tradition, Yale by expectation, and Harvard by choice.

    * The funniest story in the book is when he is sitting at a dinner party in Kennebunkport with his parents during his heavy alcohol stage, and he says to a contemporary of his parents, so what is sex like after 50. Everyone was aghast at the statement. The future President receives a note after he is elected. The note says, "Well George how is it?"

    * What you are looking at here is an absolutely honest, self examination.

    * When the President becomes introspective and talks about personnel, his philosophy is that the people who surround you will determine the quality of advice you receive and the way your goals are implemented.

    * He mentions meeting with Margaret Thatcher who told him that she usually makes up her mind about a man in 10 seconds, and very rarely changes it.

    You cannot write 500 plus pages of biography without revealing yourself. You simply cannot hide it for that long. I do not believe that this President has a bad bone in his body. Did he make mistakes, yes lots of them, and everyone else does too. It's all so easy in hindsight, and so difficult to call them accurately before the event. He takes responsibility, and welcomes history's future judgment of him. This is a man who sleeps at night.

    It's all here in 14 chapters, from stem cells, September 11th, Afghanistan, Iraq, Katrina, the Surge, his freedom agenda, and finishing with the financial crisis. You will wind up reading the whole thing, and looking for more. You will be critical, and at the same time consoling, for this was and is, a good man. They may have been errors of judgment, but not of the heart. From the hiring's to the firings, read this book and you will better understand a part of history we all lived through. He holds no punches and tells you what he thinks of the players who were part of his Administration.

    And then there's the family, his love of father and mother. Their loving imprint on him, and the child they produced. George Bush is the perfect example of the apple not falling very far from the tree. He is the product of a totally enveloping family where he was not pushed, but gently supported to find his own way. There were stumbles along the way including the decade long battle with alcoholism.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book and ask you my fellow reader to come to it with an open mind, with a fresh eye, and try to see if you can capture some fresh thoughts on this very interesting man who has led a very interesting life. In the end it seemed to me that if George Bush was your friend, you didn't need many more friends - you were covered. Thank you for reading this review.

    Richard C. Stoyeck

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating
    I voted for Bush the first time. I didn't vote for him the second time. I rarely read political books or memoirs, but the way Bush has carried himself after leaving office had me intrigued and gave me a new respect for the man.
    I started this book and, at times, got very bogged down with details that this mostly fiction reader doesn't like, but still, I appreciated it and didn't skip anything (as I usually will).
    It was a fascinating look into politics, what really goes on behind the scenes, and how truly difficult (as I imagined, but never really new)dealing with a national tragedy was.
    Humorous and smart, what I liked about the book was that, after I was done reading it, I felt that President Bush was an ordinary guy who managed to do an extraordinary job with class. Not perfect, not by a long shot, but that he admits his errors and does so, I believe, sincerely.
    A truly fascinating book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Changed my opinion of the man
    I have never been a fan of Bush. In fact I really thought he was the worst president in history. I could not put this book down. He had an extraordinarily hard job, and when he tells of his mindset when making the decisions he made I have to admire him. I truly think that he did what he thought was the rite thing to do on each and every one of his decisions. I can honestly say that I now think that he did a good job.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Honest Reflection That Shows W is a Man After All
    I read this one right after the release, and being one of the many who was tired of W and ready for him to leave office, I have a new perspective on the man - no matter if you are a Democrat, Republican, or whatever political party affiliation you may lean I believe if you read this book with an open mind you will have a new perspective on W, too: he is a man, certainly not perfect, and every decision made with the facts and circumstances at hand is subject to second guessing. After all, hindsight is 20-20.

    I thought the reflections on alcohol and religion were refreshing in a politician - when do you hear of a politician having truly candid conversations on those two subjects? The realities of not finding WMD in Iraq, the repercussions of Hurricane Katrina, Scooter Libby, and the honesty come out in this book. Love him or hate him, I think this is an honest reflection, albeit with a few cards still held close to the vest - being President of the USA has to be one of the most difficult jobs ever, and wears on you. You try to make the best decisions at the time - sometimes they work out, and unfortunately sometimes they don't and you have to live with it. That is life.

    If you are looking for a good read on W's perspective, I recommend you pick this one up. If you can't get over the negative - or even highly enthusiastic - celebration of W's presidency, this one is probably not for you.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An interesting insight...
    This book provided an interesting, thematic look at the major issues in the presidency of America's forty-third president. Even if you do not share the policy leanings of GWB, you will most likely come away at least understanding hit rationale for the major decisions he made and be convinced that he placed serious thought and judgment into making them. I came away very surprised and gained a great deal of respect and empathy for his management style and processes, even in instances where the decisions may not have been ones I would have made in his place. A must for anyone interested in American politics. I found that many insights and pieces of information I did not get during his time in office. ... Read more

    2. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
    by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQU1VS
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Mystery
    This book included 12 adventures:
    1. A Scandal in Bohemia
    2. The Red-Headed League
    3. A Case of Identity
    4. The Boscombe Valley Mystery
    5. The Five Orange Pips
    6. The Man with the Twisted Lip
    7. The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle
    8. The Adventure of the Speckled Band
    9. The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
    10. The Adventure of the Noble Bachelor
    11. The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
    12. The Adventure of the Copper Beeches

    Great classic literature. I really enjoy reading Holmes and Watson's adventures, solving the mystery, and putting the puzzles together.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect Kindle mysteries at the perfect price!
    This free Kindle download is the prelude to The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Arthur Conan Doyle's timeless tales are perfect for Kindle and, actually, the Kindle's electronic voice does an admirable job of reading them to you!

    Special thanks to Eileen T for posting the list of stories contained within!

    The only downside to this free Kindle download is that it doesn't have linked Table of Contents. So how do you quickly skip to a chapter later in the book?

    Elementary my dear Watson! (-:

    Pick a unique word from the story title. Click MENU > "Search this book"
    Then type the most unique words from the title. Alas, this doesn't always work, and I can't figure out why. A new mystery! In the meantime, enjoy the classics....

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Britian's Nineteenth Century History
    English history is served up along with the amazing mystery stories. I enjoy the pictures of daily life...the maid bringing in lunch to Holmes on a pre-arranged schedule, passing the street vendors and beggars, imagining the opium den frequented by addicts, vivid descriptions of period clothing, transportation and commerce slipped seamlessly into the tales. I read this often to refresh the imagery in my mind.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The best of the Holmes short stories
    Although he also wrote several novels featuring the world's greatest fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, it was especially in his short stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle perfected the Holmes formula. And of the five collections of Holmes short stories (about a dozen in each collection), "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" (published in 1892) was the first and is easily the most popular and best of the five. It contains all except one of the five all-time most popular short stories in the Sherlock Holmes canon (A Scandal in Bohemia, The Red-headed League, The Blue Carbuncle, and The Speckled Band), as well as some other gems like The Five Orange Pips. For newcomers to Holmes, this there is no better place to start than with the dozen stories that comprise "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes". And for long-time fans, these are old favorites worth reading again and again.

    Here's a list of the stories in this collection (with the better stories marked with stars):
    ***A Scandal in Bohemia, 1891 - The very first and one of the top five Sherlock Holmes short stories. After some brilliant detective work involving disguises and acting, Holmes is outwitted by the woman Irene Adler in his quest to help the hereditary king of Bohemia regain a scandalous photograph from her.
    ***The Red-headed League, 1891 - Generally regarded as all-time second best Sherlock Holmes story, this bizarre tale features a pawnbroker who is paid money to join the mysterious Red-Headed League and copy out Encyclopedia Britannica, as part of an ingenious scheme to rob a bank.
    A Case of Identity, 1891 - Holmes solves the mystery of Mary Sutherland's fiance who disappears on the morning of his wedding, unmasking it as scheme hatched by her greedy step-father.
    The Boscombe Valley Mystery, 1891 - Charles McCarthy's son seems the obvious murderer of his father after a violent quarrel, so it is up to Holmes to show that the murder has its real roots in the Australian past of the dead man and his landlord.
    **The Five Orange Pips, 1891 - One of Doyle's personal favorites, this tale recounts the death of two men, both preceded by the arrival of five mysterious orange pips. In one of his few failures, Holmes connects the events to the Ku Klux Klan, but not soon enough to prevent another death.
    *The Man with the Twisted Lip, 1891 - A baffling mystery about Mr. Neville St. Clair who disappears from a room into thin air, and a professional beggar who is the suspected murderer.
    ***The Blue Carbuncle, 1892 - Another favorite all-time top 5 Holmes story, as Holmes unravels how a blue diamond ended up inside the goose intended for Mr. Henry Baker's Christmas dinner.
    ***The Speckled Band, 1892 - Universally regarded as the most popular short story in the Sherlock Holmes canon, and easily one of the more suspenseful and chilling. The engaged Helen Stoner is terrified when she hears the same strange whistling that preceded the death of her twin sister in a locked bedroom shortly before her wedding. Her step-father Dr. Grimesby Roylott, a evil and greedy man with a passion for exotic pets like his cheetah and baboon, is the suspected villain - but how could he do it? The only clue are the mysterious words of Helen's dying sister about "speckled band"...
    The Engineer's Thumb, 1892 - Victor Hatherley, a hydraulic engineer, is offered a lucrative contract to go to a secret location at night to fix a fuller's earth press, but why does he lose his thumb and nearly his life in the process? As Holmes says to the engineer about the missing thumb: "Indirectly it may be of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your existence."
    The Noble Bachelor, 1892 - When Lord St. Simon's new American wife goes missing shortly after their wedding, it is up to Holmes to find both her and the reason for her disappearance,
    The Beryl Coronet - Expensive jewels are mysteriously damaged in the home of a wealthy banker, his ill-reputed son the prime suspect.
    The Copper Beeches, 1892 - Violet Hunter is paid an exorbitant sum to be a governness at a house called The Copper Beeches. Her employment includes some strange stipulations, such as cutting her hair short and wearing a particular blue dress - but why?

    5-0 out of 5 stars Holmes and Watson -- The Neverending Adventures
    Did you know that Holmes never, ever said "Elementary, my dear Watson" in any of the sixty stories Arthur Conan Doyle wrote?

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes were initially published in "The Strand" magazine as a series of 24 short stories. These stories saw publication between 1891 and 1893. When they were published in book form, the first twelve were published as "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" and the last twelve were called "The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes." Today, when we speak of the original "Adventures," we usually refer to the first twelve Holmes short stories. These twelve stories include some of the best of Holmes: "The Speckled Band," "The Red Headed League," "A Scandal in Bohemia." Doyle continued his Holmes saga with other collections of short stories: "The Return of Sherlock Holmes," "Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes," "His Last Bow," and finally "The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes." Almost every Holmes short story bears the title "The Adventure of . . ." One of my favorite Holmes stories is "The Problem of Thor Bridge." Not only is it a very good yarn, it is a "Problem" and not an "Adventure!" Although Conan Doyle ran out of Holmes stories, the public did not run out of its appetite for new Holmes stories, and production of pastiches continues to this day.

    To me, the most satisfying way to relive the adventures of Sherlock Holmes, both original and pastiche adventures, is through the medium of audiotaped radio plays. There are at least four collections of adventures currently available. "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," a publication of BBC shows starring Clive Merrison, reprises the original twelve adventures. This is probably the best radio collection of adventures. National Public Radio has published four "Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" consisting of four one hour productions starring various actors as Holmes. The quality is uneven. "Smithsonian Historical Performances: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" has twelve stories, four of which are original. Edith Meiser wrote the pastiches, and John Stanley starred as a rather disagreeable Holmes. Some stories are very good; others are woeful. Simon and Schuster publishes a series of six "New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes." Each collection has eight Holmes stories. Of the pastiches, these are the best. Nigel Bruce stars as a loveable, bumbling Watson, and Basil Rathbone portrays the archetypical Holmes. Anthony Boucher and Dennis Green wrote the scripts and did a very good job. Holmesaholics will also want to listen to "More New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," published by the Brilliance Corporation, and starring Tom Conway as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson. These stories are on the whole better than the Smithsonian Historical Performances, but not as good as the Rathbone/Bruce "New Adventures." They also have the drawback of being published as individual cassettes. The avid collector can run to some expense getting all of these.

    Holmes survived Conan Doyle's attempt on his life at the Reichenbach Falls; he has survived his creator 80 years without showing any signs of loss of vitality. The latest (and quite enjoyable) addition to the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is the BBC Television series starring Jeremy Brett.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A timeless hero
    Spending so much of my day plugged into the internet, peering at my iPhone, staring at Excel spreadsheets, it has been an absolute pleasure reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes(on my Kindle, I must admit). I am reminded, in adventure after adventure, that there is no substitute for a sharp mind and astute observation. As I watch the master investigator calmly solve the most "singular" of mysteries through the eyes of Dr. James Watson, I almost want to myself be transported back to 19th century London.

    If you haven't read any of Conan Doyle's stories, they are worth perusing. I only read a dozen of Holmes' adventures. But in those stories, I grew intimately close with both the detective and his trusty sidekick and doctor-cum-biographer, Watson. I came to admire Holmes' heroic stoicism, encyclopedic memory, and sharp wit.

    Each of the adventures follows a somewhat similar plot structure. The adventure opens with a shot into Watson's or Holmes' personal life. You might hear briefly about Watson's life as a doctor, or get a glimpse of Holmes' tobacco, alcohol, or cocaine habits (yes, the rumors are true--Holmes does cocaine). At some point, Watson ends up at Holmes' pad on Baker Street. Both men are then found lounging, Holmes in his "dressing gown," both men likely smoking, drinking, and enjoying a fine meal, usually arms' length from a cozy fire.

    Watson, the narrator, will then tell us how, in all of his time with Holmes, the case he is about to elucidate is the most "singular" one yet. Then one of them will see or hear someone approaching their home base; inevitably, the bell will ring and in will enter yet another all-but-hopeless client. We'll get a detailed description of the client's physical appearance, from the clothes on his or her back to the flushness of the face. We'll also always get an idea of what class the client falls into; most regularly, the clients are from higher classes. The client will give us a detailed account of his or her problems as Holmes and Watson listen intently. It is here that the reader is supposed to do the detective work to piece together clues to solve the case. Of course, most of what the client tells us seems unrelated and inane; Holmes will remind us that the simplest cases are the hardest ones, and the smallest of details often the most important.

    In most cases, the client has a suspicion that the police's conclusions on the case were flawed. In almost every case, the police were consulted and ended up being wrong indeed. Holmes generally requires a trip to the crime scene, sometimes in costume, and the readers have the privilege to join him with Watson. But most trips are simply chances for Holmes to confirm what he already suspected. Guns may be drawn, extreme danger is almost always encountered, and Holmes emerges the hero. Holmes has a penchant for withholding his conclusions from us until the very end of the story, however, so as the reader follows Holmes' movements at the crime scenes, the reader must do some sleuthing as well.

    Holmes will finally tell us what actually happened, and the seemingly innocuous clues from earlier in the chapter prove to be essential to the weaving of the truth. Holmes prefers to strike a deal with the crimes' perpetrators rather than offering them to the police. The clients offer to give Holmes unlimited reward for a job well done, and Holmes calmly requests only that which will defer the cost of his work. He gets enough pleasure out of a job professionally well-done.

    Because of the similarities between stories, I recommend taking Holmes in limited doses. But his is a very powerful medicine, one that rejuvenates the mind and strengthens the character. As an example of someone who betters the world by doing what he loves, Sherlock Holmes is a timeless hero. ... Read more

    3. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
    by Laura Hillenbrand
    list price: $27.00 -- our price: $13.99
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 1400064163
    Publisher: Random House
    Sales Rank: 3
    Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

    The lieutenant’s name was Louis Zamperini.  In boyhood, he’d been a cunning and incorrigible delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and fleeing his home to ride the rails.  As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a prodigious talent that had carried him to the Berlin Olympics and within sight of the four-minute mile.  But when war had come, the athlete had become an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

    Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater.  Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering with hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion.  His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.

    In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the most stunning books of the year, September 24, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I read this book in two days flat and I know that, had I had the time, I would have read it in one sitting. This is a book that grips you, draws you in and leaves you feeling a slightly better person for having read it.

    The story is that of Louie Zamperini - a track and field star of the 1930's, who participated in the Berlin olympics, was part of the US air force in WWII, was shot down over the ocean, was adrift in the Pacific for over a month, was held as a POW by the Japanese forces and finally made it back to his life and has had the courage to live it to its fullest.

    Hillenbrand is a marvellous author. I was never tempted to read Seabiscuit and this was my first introduction to her work. She is one of a few authors who can write a non fiction story in the most gripping and vivid way imaginable. Instead of being flowery or overly embellished her prose relies squarely on research and on witness accounts and yet manages to never be dull. The swiftly moving story takes the reader from Zamperini's early beginnings, his swift rise to track star, the Berlin olympics and then to the World War. This is where the story really blooms. Hillenbrand settles in for the long haul here and we get to see the air force and the B24 bombers through the words of the men who actually flew them. The sequences where Zamperini and his friend Phil are adrift at sea are vivid and strangely beautifully described. The horrors that await them at the Japanese prison camps are not glossed over but neither does Hillenbrand wallow in the gore and violence as some authors may be tempted to do. There is always a strong sense of the respect the author holds for the men whose story she is being allowed to tell.

    History has perhaps focused its eye too exclusively on the war in Europe to the extent where the situation in the Pacific and the plight of POW's there has not recieved the attention and the respect it deserves. Hillenbrand's book and detailed research certainly makes a strong attempt to change that.

    Solidly based on statistics and army reports from both sides of the war, Hillenbrands book paints a clear picture of the hellish conditions that the POW's endured and the utter madness of the war that was being waged in the Pacific. This is a hard story to read but one that is well worth it. The falling apart of Louie's life and his slow path to regaining his life and sense of purpose is a story that is truly inspiring. This book will find a permanent place of honor on my bookshelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Epic Biography, October 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Louis Zamperini? Who is he? Laura Hillenbrand's near 500-page reply will answer the question not only once, but for all. He is the California boy who was a kleptomaniac. He is the running prodigy who competed at Hitler's Berlin Olympics, shook hands with the Fuhrer, and was almost shot by Nazi guards for stealing a Nazi souvenir. He is the American serviceman who entered the Pacific theater, crashed into the sea, and spent a harrowing forty-odd days floating on a disintegrating raft circled by aggressive sharks, scorched by a relentless sun, and gnawed to the bone by an inescapable hunger.

    Who is Louis Zamperini? He is a man who overcame all THAT only to be "rescued" by the wrong side -- the Japanese. He is the man who went from being a prisoner of starvation and sharks that actually leaped up and tried to snatch him out of the foundering raft to being a prisoner of Japanese guards who were every bit as predatory as the great white of the seas. He is the man who was beaten every day by a particular Japanese corporal named Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a.k.a. "the Bird." He is, in short, the Unbroken One -- the man who kept getting up, coming back, rebounding, and holding on to the tenuous thread that connected him with life and hope, past any duration that any of us could possibly imagine. And, as YOU can imagine, his story is compelling. In fact, in the capable hands of Laura Hillenbrand, author of SEABISCUIT, it reads like a thriller, a page-turner, a fictional product of a keenly talented mind -- proving once again that truth can trump fiction when it comes to stories and mankind's love of hearing them.

    When you reach the end of this man's incredible journey, you will be awed by the scope of Hillenbrand's writing. It is clear that she did a vast amount of research -- reading letters, telegrams, newspaper clippings, radio transcripts, etc., AND interviewing not only Zamperini himself, but his family members, friends, surviving fellow servicemen, and even Japanese captors. Woven in her biography are many statistics and facts from the history of World War II as well. You will learn about the science of survival -- why certain men live and certain men die -- and about the strengths and weaknesses of America's planes that carried servicemen over the vast distances of the Pacific Ocean. You will learn about the war strategy, the Japanese culture and its effects on treatment of POWs as well as on conducting (and refusing to surrender in) a war to the bitter end. And, sadly, you will learn about the aftermath of war in Japan.

    It's all here, bigger than life, packed into the small frame of one man from Torrance, California -- a man that could, and did, live to tell about a page in history we hope never to repeat. Both a personal tale of redemption and resilience, UNBROKEN is destined to become a classic in the category of narrative nonfiction. Ordinarily I'm a fiction guy, but I was spellbound from the start. Honest. Give it a try. It's big, but reads small. I think, when you reach the end, you, too, will sing its (and Louie's) praises (at 93, Zamperini is still alive and still "Unbroken"!).

    5-0 out of 5 stars Another masterpiece by the author of "Seabiscuit", September 28, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is the long (500 pages) extremely detailed, meticulously researched and extremely moving story of a Hero. And yes, the caps on "hero" was intentional.

    In the first half of the book we get a detailed biography of Louis Zamperini- bad boy, then track and field star and Olympic contender. Possibly too detailed here, I admit. We then segue into WWI and Lt Zamperini's Air Corps career as a B-24 bombardier. Great stuff here, goes into fascinating detail about the B24 Liberator and the men who flew them in the Pacific. The last portion here is a harrowing tale of survival in the open seas, one of the best I have read.

    Then, Louie Zamperini gets captured by the Japanese. Folks, watching Bridge on the River Kwai will not prepare you for the brutality and inhumanity of the horrors Laura Hillenbrand brings to life here. Now, this is a gripping adventure story, well told, one that is hard to put down. But I had to put this book down in a couple places here, the story was that brutally true.

    A tale of unbelievable endurance, hardship and heroism. A real page turner, extremely well written and readable.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A well written, thoroughly researched story of survival, September 26, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    No one can accuse Laura Hillenbrand, author of Seabiscuit: An American Legend, of ever doing a half-effort job of research when she writes narrative nonfiction. Spending seven years on this effort, the Author has produced one of the most detailed stories of an American POW being held by the Japanese during World War II that I have ever read. With the many interviews with the subject during her research, along with interviews of family members, other POW's and their families, reading over unpublished memoirs, personal letters, and military documents, it would have been easy for this book to have become a long drawn-out and sterile narrative that would read like a text book. Instead we're treated to a captivating and at times heart-wrenching story that takes a group of unknowns and present them in a way that you truly come to know them.

    The subject of the book is Louis Zamperini, whose life would have been an interesting read even before the events during WWII. A relatively trouble child who stole everything in sight, he grows up to become one of the greatest track stars of his time, shattering the national high school record in the mile and becoming one of the youngest members of the U.S. Olympic team in 1936. Many felt that Zamperini would become the first person to break the four minute mile. With the onset of the war, he was drafted into the Army Air Force and became a bombardier assigned to the semi-unreliable B-24. After surviving a number of bombing missions against Japanese targets his plane goes down in the middle of the ocean while searching for another downed plane. What follows is a story of survival by sheer will, first being adrift at sea for 46 days and then spending over two brutal years as a POW in Japan.

    Hillenbrand takes us step-by-step through the events, introducing us to other Allied prisoners as well as a number of the Japanese guards and personnel. Her descriptions of the brutality Louie, as well as other prisoners, went through are very detailed and heart-wrenching. His daily beatings from a guard known as "The Bird" would have been enough to break anyone but Zamperini endured each one. One thing I found interesting is not only did she name names of the guards that tortured the prisoners mercilessly she also did not shy away from pointing out the Japanese personnel who did their best to shield the prisoners even at the risk of their own safety. Then after the war the Author takes us through the post-traumatic years as Zamperini's life spirals downward, and his eventual rebirth as he learns forgiveness and peace.

    I would highly recommend this to those looking for an inspiring story of, as the sub-title of the book says, "Survival, Resilience, and Redemption." Just be aware, a large portion of the story will focus on the brutality and suffering inflicted on the POW's by the Japanese war machine. It can be at times a very disturbing and difficult narrative to read, one that can bring tears to your eyes. It is both one of the best books of the WWII POW experience I've read, and one of the most troubling.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing, tour-de-force, destined to be a bestseller, November 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    In "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption," author Laura Hillenbrand (of Seabiscuit: An American Legend tells the story of Louis Zamperini, a bad boy turned track and field star, who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympic and even met Hitler. Narrowly escaping arrest for attempting to piler a Nazi flag, Zamperini returned home, washed out as a pilot and eventually ended up in the Army Air Corps as a B-24 bombardier.

    Then, in May 1943, his plane goes down. He and one of his crewmates endure over 47 days before they find land, but, unfortunately, they land in enemy terrain, and are sent to a POW camp, where the story gets even more harrowing and brutal. The story of Zamperini's ordeal, survival and eventual return home, with its own attendant struggles, is one of the most gripping tales of heroism and sheer toughness, mental and physical, that I have ever read.

    I must admit, I was a bit worried that Ms. Hillenbrand, after having written the excellent Seabiscuit, would suffer a "sophomore slump." My worries were completely unfounded. Ms. Hillenbrand has the rare gift for setting atmosphere, including vast amounts of tightly-integrated background information, yet her narrative never drags or slows. Every detail was meticulously researched - I can only imagine how much work that took - and she did an incredible effort of setting the stage. I also appreciated the even-handedness of her approach, particularly when singling out the kind and humane guards in the Japanese POW camp, who took tremendous risks. Another standout section of the book, although brief, was the difficulty soldiers had in returning back to "normal life" after the war.

    This is one of the best books, historical or not, that I have ever read, and would make an outstanding movie as well. Five-plus stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best Book of the Year, November 2, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    Laura Hillenbrand's new book, "Unbroken", is one of the most incredible books I've read in recent years. It is the true story of Louie Zamperini. Zamperini, an Olympic 5000 meter runner for the US(Berlin; 1936) survives the plane crash of his bomber in the Pacific in May of 1943. The book recounts in vivid detail all that occurs over the next 2 and 1/2 years. Mr. Zamperini's story is absolutely incredible. This ranks with the best personal accounts of WWII ever written. This book is riveting!! Ms Hillenbrand's narrative style compels you to continue turning pages long after her accounts of the horrors Zamperini has endured have left you exhausted. This book is a MUST READ!! It is destined to be perched at the top of the bestseller lists for months to come.

    5-0 out of 5 stars War, survival and redemption., November 7, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    There are thousands of books written about World War Two. Some tell the story of battles; some follow the history of the whole war, or this or that theater. Some focus on the plight of the Prisoners of War. Some are memoirs, or biographies.
    Unbroken must join the bibliography of the Pacific War as one of the best personal narratives written. Laura Hillenbrand, famous for her story of Seabiscuit, picks up the story of one young man, Louie Zamperini, troublemaker, runner, bombardier, and runs with it. He was lost in the crash at sea of his B24 Green Hornet. Lost at sea, he drifted for weeks in a life raft with two of his crewmates. They broke all records for survival in such a craft. Two of them made it, through shark infested waters, hunger and thirst to land. That's where their ordeal began.
    Now, a survival against nature story turns into something more terrible and ominous. Zamperini must contend and deal with the blackest shadows of human nature while a POW in wartime Japan. Against all odds he survives, after being officially declared dead and returns to a grateful nation.
    He and his fellow POWs suffer the after effects of their ordeals for years after the war and again, Zamperini sinks into his own private hell. Then, when in deepest despair, he meets a young Billy Graham and his life turns around once more. He finds finally redemption and returns to Japan not as a messenger of hate but as a herald of hope and forgiveness.
    I loved this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Marvelous, compelling story, November 5, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    I remember quite clearly when reading Laura Hillenbrand's "Seabiscuit" about the famous racehorse that this might be a once-in-a-lifetime book for the author, that she would probably never find so compelling a story to focus upon. Hillenbrand herself says much the same thing in the afterword to her new "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" (due to be released to the public in the next couple weeks) -- but then she learned about Louie Zamperini. Zamperini, as the son of immigrant Italians in California in the 1930s, seemed a sure candidate for everybody's "Most Likely to Go to Reform School" list. Then, his older brother convinced him to try out for the high school track team, and a great natural gift for running was discovered. In short order, his academic and disciplinary record reversed itself, and soon Zamperini was a student at USC and one of the brightest stars of the American track scene, often touted as being the man most likely to break the fabled four minute barrier in running the mile. He was on the US team at the 1936 (Berlin) Olympics where he did respectably, although it was believed that with a little more maturity his real opportunity to win gold would come at the 1940 (Tokyo) Olympics. Then, World War II started.

    Louis Zamperini found himself a B24 bombadier in the Pacific, where long distance over-water flying in aircraft of dubious mechanical reliability probably killed more air crew than combat. In 1943 Zamperini's plane disappeared while on a search-and-rescue mission, and Zamperini and the rest of the crew were presumed killed. Instead, he and the pilot survived 47 days in a life raft before being found and "rescued" by the Japanese, landing Zamperini in a succession of POW camps for the next two years. It was a horrid, brutal experience, and it makes for intensely distressing reading. Zamperini was singled out by one particular chief guard, perhaps because of his sports fame, perhaps because of his unbowed attitude, for unrelenting, sadistic attention. Yet, despite the beatings and torture and almost nonexistent food and terrible living conditions Zamperini survived.

    Restored to the States after the end of the War, Zamperini married but quickly descended into a desperate spiral of alcohol and anger that threatened his marriage and his life. But, improbably enough, when he was dragged reluctantly to a Billy Graham camp meeting by his estranged wife, Zamperini found it within himself to let go of his wholly understandable anger and thirst for revenge, and literally reformed himself overnight, becoming an inspirational speaker and advocate for troubled youths. As of this writing, he is still hale and hearty, an indomitable optimist.

    Hillenbrand has once again found herself a perfect subject (Zamperini told her that it would be easier to write about him than Seabiscuit because he, at least, could talk), and again has demonstrated her skill in constructing a highly compelling story, vividly drawing upon the memories of a large cast of friends and family and former enemies. "Unbroken" is a marvelous book. The account of Zamperini's POW years is tough stuff, to be sure, but Hillenbrand's focus on an extraordinary character is unwavering.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Tale of Hardship, Danger, and Courage., September 29, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is a splendid book. It describes the terrible hardships endured by Louis Zamperini, former Olympian athlete, during World War Two bombing missions in the Pacific. In World War Two, I flew bombing missions over Germany, so the author's description of the tension, fear (even terror), and shock at the death of one friend after another rings painfully true. But for Zamperini, the worst was yet to come. On a flight to find a missing bomber in the vast expanse of the Central Pacific, his B-24 bomber developed mechanical trouble and plunged into the ocean. Zamperini and several of the crew managed to escape the sinking bomber and get onto a small life raft. There was precious little food and water on the raft, so they had nothing but occasional rainwater. For food, they ate raw fish, if they could catch one before the sharks did. Under a blazing sun, they drifted for an amazing 47 days before they landed on an island. But they were captured immediately by Japanese soldiers. Shipped to a prison camp in Japan, they suffered month after month of beatings, torture, and the threat of instant execution. When the war ended, the prisoners were liberated and sent home. But the war was not over for them. Although it was not discussed much back then, many suffered from post-traumatic disorder, a horror that can go on for years. Laura Hillenbrand has done a magnificent piece of writing here. It may leave you breathless, but it is well worth reading.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Book of the Year, November 18, 2010

    Customer review from the Amazon Vine™ Program (What's this?)
    This is likely to be the book of the year for several reasons. It is beautifully written and beautifully structured. It has a compelling and inspirational subject. It is filled to the brim with fascinating facts (Which parts of a shark are edible? What was the mortality rate in Japanese prison camps versus that in Italian/German ones? What is it like to fly a B-24?). It is the product of exhaustive research. It combines the advantages and attractiveness of biography with the strengths and strategies of suspense fiction.

    By now, most will be familiar with the subject. In Seabiscuit Laura Hillenbrand studied a California racer. She does the same in Unbroken, with the distinct advantage that (as her subject pointed out to her) he can actually talk and tell her what happened. Her subject, Louie Zamperini, was a difficult child who matured into an Olympic runner, racing in Berlin in 1936. He joined the Army Air Force in WWII, serving as a bombardier. His hideously-unreliable B-24 plummeted into the Pacific and he and two fellow fliers floated in an open raft toward the Marshall Islands, fighting heat, thirst, starvation, sharks and strafings from a Japanese plane along the way.

    Interned in several Japanese prison camps he was treated mercilessly and criminally. Saved by the American forces in the Pacific, the relentless bombing of Japan by B-29's and, quintessentially, by the flight of the Enola Gay, he was freed and returned home. Enslaved by persistent memories and alcohol, his marriage on the edge, he was saved by none other than Billy Graham. He remains alive today at 93, still feisty and active.

    This is the perfect Christmas gift for anyone, but particularly for those who remember the war, those who experienced it directly and those who need to be educated concerning it. Be warned, however. Once they start reading the book they will be absent from the rest of the family's holiday activities until they complete it.

    I highly recommend it and tip my hat to the author for her personal courage and tenacity in writing a great book. ... Read more

    4. Pride and Prejudice
    by Jane Austen
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMLFLW
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece of Wit and Style, A Timeless Work for the Ages
    Jane Austen is one of the great masters of the English language, and PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is her great masterpiece, a sharp and witty comedy of manners played out in early 19th Century English society, a world in which men held virtually all the power and women were required to negotiate mine-fields of social status, respectability, wealth, love, and sex in order to marry both to their own liking and to the advantage of their family. And such is particularly the case of the Bennetts, a family of daughters whose father's estate is entailed to a distant relative, for upon Mr. Bennett's death they will loose home, land, income, everything. But are the Bennett daughters up to playing a winning hand in this high-stakes matrimonial game without forfeiting their own personal integrity?

    This battle of the sexes is largely seen through the eyes of second daughter Elizabeth, who possesses a razor-sharp wit and rich sense of humor--and who finds herself hindered by her own addlepated mother, her sister Jane's hopeless love for the wealthy Mr. Bingley, and her sister Lydia's penchant for scandal... not to mention the high-born, formidable, and outrageously proud Mr. Darcy, who seems determined to trump her every card. But the game of love proves more surprising than either Elizabeth or Mr. Darcy can imagine, and sometimes a seemingly weak hand proves a winning one when all cards are on the table.

    PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is simply one of the funniest novels ever written, peopled with memorable characters brought vividly to life as they both succeed and fail at the game of life according to the manners of their era. It is a novel to which I return again and again, enjoying Austen's brillant talent. I have little respect for people who describe it as dull, slow, out of date, for as long as men and women live and fall in love it will never be out of style, always be meaningful, and always be funny. A masterpiece of wit and style; a timeless novel for the ages.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get better than this...
    It doesn't get better than Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Whether you're the hopeless romantic or you just love the classics, you're going to love this book. Though I am only sixteen, I consider myself to be moderately well-read. I love reading, and, when I am between books, my life feels desolate and empty. One day, while in the most barren pit of ennui, I picked up Pride and Prejudice at my mother's recommendation. I do not ordinarily like my mother's taste in reading; her favorite books tend to be very dull, but so deep was my boredom that I succumbed to her suggestion. I wasn't displeased with what I found. I fell in love with the book at the first sentence. I brought my beloved book to the dinner table, to my classes and late into the night. I love everything about it. I love the characters; especially Elizabeth Bennet! I love the Victorian vernavular which works so well for this particular novel. I love the scintillating plot and the suspense created by knowing that Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy should be together but their pride and prejudice (hence the title) are temporarily keeping them apart. The language that the novel is written in might be a little more difficult to read than contemporary literature, but once one gets accustomed to it, it makes the novel even more pleasurable. I cannot imagine Elizabeth or Darcy or Bingley or any of the other characters speaking any less eloquently; it would ruin the whole experience! The flowery language completes the whole effect of reading a Jane Austen novel. If a disgruntled female reader put down Pride and Prejudice, pick it back up! I strongly suggest it because it may prove to be tedious at first but if read again, it would probably read more easily. I can offer no suggestions to the male reader, however, because generally this book, in ever essence, is a female novel. I am not saying that men would definetly not enjoy it; I'm simply saying that I have yet to meet any male who has not addressed this book in a very vehement manner. I simply love this book in its entirety, and I know it won't be too long before I pick it up again. Jane Austen surely knew what she was doing when she wrote this one! Her Pride and Prejudice will always have an honored spot on my bookshelf.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A popular Austen work made better by including lit criticism
    Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is more than a manners work! A classic tale of early 19th c. upper middle class English life, Austen's work is important in the development of the novel mainly because of how she creates and intertwines her characters. Austen's characters cannot be easily removed from the novel without considering the effect on other characters. Her characters grow and change. Although the plot describes Elizabeth Bennet's non-pursuit turned pursuit of Mr. Darcy, the novel addresses the role and status of women and issues of class division. The additional essays of the Norton Critical edition provide a sound critical foundation for study and discussion of the work that are missing from "everyday" editions. P&P is a fine novel from an important English writer. The Norton Critical Edition is the recommended edition.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect for first time Austen Readers/A Must for Austen Fans
    I have always loved the style and social politics of the Regency period (the time of Jane Austen.) But when I read "Sense and Sensibility" in 7th grade I found the first few chapters lifeless, dull and hard to read. Two years later I was encouraged by a friend to give "Pride and Prejudice" a try. I did and have since become a complete Janeite. I am now able to peruse joyfully through "Sense and Sensibility" with a new understanding and appreciation of Jane Austen. The reason? "Pride and Prejudice" is fresh, witty and is a great introduction to Jane Austen's writing style without the formality of some of her other novels (unlike S&S and Persuasion Austen does not give us a 10 page history of each family and their fortune.) If you have never read Jane Austen or have read her other novels and found them boring, read Pride and Prejudice. The characters, and the situations Austen presents to them, are hysterical and reveal a lot about Regency society and morality. This book perfectly compliments a great writer like Jane Austen and is essential to every reader's library. The Penguin Edition of the book is stellar and I personally recommend it not only for the in-depth and indispensable footnotes, but also for the cover that is non-suggestive of any of the characters' appearances. In summary "Pride and Prejudice" is a great book for beginner Austen readers and seasoned fans, and Penguin Classics is a great edition for fully enjoying and understanding the book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Story- Cute Book
    This is a nice copy of the book. It has a built in ribbon bookmark and nice line drawing illustrations. It is about 3 inches wide and 5 inches long (smaller than a standard book). It is a very pretty version of the book though, and would be great as a gift. Seems like it is well made. It does have thin pages, but it doesn't seem problematic. ... Read more

    5. A Christmas Carol
    by Charles Dickens
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUKKU
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best "Christmas Carol" ever
    Many versions of Dickins' classic "A Christmas Carol" are actually abridgements (done more or less smoothly) but this version is complete and unabridged. Even if you think you are familiar with the book you may find upon reading this one that you previously had read a shortened version! The completeness of this volume would be reason enough to add it to your library, but the quality of the pages, typeface, and above all the lovely illustrations scattered throughout further commend it. I have bought copies for all 3 of my grown children--because every family deserves to own a complete version of this classic story and this one is the best I have ever seen.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Volume
    I collect "A Christmas Carol" and this is a particularly lovely volume. The illustrations are wonderful and the overall quality, printing, binding and paper, is terrific. This is definitely in my top three favorites of all the different versions I own.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read the book the way Dickens wrote it..........
    I hope all readers take time to read A CHRISTMAS CAROL in the original language Dickens used in the 1840's. Dickens' language remains humorous, descriptive and insightful and not inaccessible to most modern readers especially with the use of a good glossary. This is a great read aloud for families at Christmas time and also a great introduction to Dickens and other Victorian writers. Don't settle for an abridged version. Read this masterpiece the way it was intended

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible book, highly recommended
    I've been shopping on Amazon for years and this is the first review I've ever left for a purchase I made; that's how impressed I was with this book. I also collect versions of the classic story and I agree with the other reviewer that this is positively one of the best, ever. A majority of the pages have beautiful illustrations that wrap into the text or take the entire page, the binding and cover is understated yet perfect for this book. This is the unabridged version, the original text of the author. If you were to own just one copy of A Christmas Carol, this would be it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Classic for a Reason
    This is my favourite fairy tale of all time. And this edition is a keeper. Dickens was touched by the finger of God when he sat down to write this little book. And it seems like the drawings and illustrations are almost on every page. So many great pictures!!

    10 Stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A True Classic
    We would be hard pressed to find people not familiar with A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, due to several movies the novel has spawned. I finally sat down and read the novel and am glad I did. The novel by the prolific and popular Dickens is well-written with great characters. That the author can generate such imagery and fully-realized characters in such a short story, is a testament to his staying power. This book packs an emotional punch, and is a great tale for the holidays, or any time you need to remind yourself to be thankful for what you have and those around you. A classic story and a must read. 5 stars.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lovely Gift Edition
    I just finished flipping through this in the bookshop, and it is absolutely gorgeous. What you would expect from Candlewick Press and more, practically every page has wonderful full-color paintings, each evocative and beautiful. Unabridged text, well-bound and typeset.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Pleased
    I had been wanting to pick up a copy of this classic for quite some time. the story of redemption in this book is so uplifting, I wanted to share it with my children. I was looking for a copy that would have that rich-feeling to it. I wanted it to have some pictures to show my kids as they are still young and I want to keep them interested in the story. This copy is perfect. I was leery when I ran a search on this site. I got a few hits, but nothing that really struck me as the "definite" copy I was looking for.

    If you are looking for an heirloom quality copy, this might not be least not for a couple more I believe this book will wear nicely and be a great piece once the pages start to yellow. The type set is very neat and easy to read, and the plethora of pictures, which don't detract from the story, are beautiful.

    Pick this up for yourself and your family, you will be glad that you did. ... Read more

    6. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
    by Mark Twain
    list price: $34.95 -- our price: $18.17
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0520267192
    Publisher: University of California Press
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    "I've struck it!" Mark Twain wrote in a 1904 letter to a friend. "And I will give it away--to you. You will never know how much enjoyment you have lost until you get to dictating your autobiography." Thus, after dozens of false starts and hundreds of pages, Twain embarked on his "Final (and Right) Plan" for telling the story of his life. His innovative notion--to "talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment"--meant that his thoughts could range freely. The strict instruction that many of these texts remain unpublished for 100 years meant that when they came out, he would be "dead, and unaware, and indifferent," and that he was therefore free to speak his "whole frank mind." The year 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of Twain's death. In celebration of this important milestone and in honor of the cherished tradition of publishing Mark Twain's works, UC Press is proud to offer for the first time Mark Twain's uncensored autobiography in its entirety and exactly as he left it. This major literary event brings to readers, admirers, and scholars the first of three volumes and presents Mark Twain's authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars The Scholarly Mark Twain Edition, October 21, 2010
    The potential reader for this edition should be aware of several items. First, this autobiography is an oversize hardbook which means it may not fit into a bookshelf with other more traditional hardbooks. Second this is an academic press which means that there is a long introduction and discussion of prior autobiographical starts by Mark Twain (1870-1905) for two hundred pages. The actual autobiography of Mark Twain is only 270 pages of transcriptions from his dictation of his 1906 attempt to write his life story. Following the narrative are an additional 150+ pages of notes, index and appendixes. Two more volumes will be published later. Third, this edition is a rambling text with no chronological sequence. Mark Twain told stories as he remembered as they came to his memory. None of these observations are negative but the reader should be aware of these differences.

    This book aims to be the definitive edition by publishing everything that Mark dictated or wrote after 1905 in the order that it came into creation. Prior publications were much shorter as various editors organized what they thought was interesting, had his family's approval and was in some chronlogical sequence (Charles Neider did the best overall job of this fifty years ago). What the reader has here is Mark Twain's true speaking voice -- he is doing a monologue in your presence, going wherever his memory takes him.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful, but beyond any adequate description, October 21, 2010
    Fifteen minutes ago I finished reading Volume One of the newly published "Autobiography of Mark Twain". It is no more possible to adequately describe this massive book as to attempt to fully capture the full, intricate realities of a vast range of wild mountains.

    Twain tried for many years to write his autobiography, but time and again his efforts ground to a halt and were abandoned, although fragments were kept for eventual use (and presented as part of this Volume One). It was not until Twain fixed upon the mode of orally dictating his autobiography that he found a method that really worked for him and allowed him to complete the project to his own satisfaction. The first portion of these 1906 dictations (plus explanatory editorial notes) form the heart of the present volume (two more volumes will eventually be released to complete the "Autobiography"). The result certainly does not follow a standard autobiographical approach (which Twain characterizes as a "plan that starts you at the cradle and drives you straight for the grave, with no side-excursions permitted on the way. Whereas the side-excursions are the life of our life-voyage, and should be, also, of its history.") The "Autobiography" as dictated instead is all side-excursion, almost stream of consciousness. Twain's intent was that it not be published in unexpurgated form until a hundred years after his death, leaving him free to say whatever he wished about whomever he wished to speak. Portions of it have indeed been published from time to time, in a highly edited form bearing little resemblance to what Twain intended as the true "Autobiography".

    In approaching the "Autobiography" the reader should not expect a conventional, chronologically arranged, continuous narrative in the traditional style. Twain strove intentionally, and successfully, to avoid that, instead reaching for an entirely novel style suitable for avoiding what he considered to be the usual "lying" (perhaps especially lying to oneself) found in standard autobiographies. The present volume is presented in four distinct parts: First is a lengthy explanatory section from the editors, providing the background for the "Autobiography" and explaining what Twain was aiming for; this section is probably necessary for better appreciating what Twain eventually achieved, but also may not be the best place to begin browsing. Second are the fragments of autobiographical material Twain wrote over the last few decades of the 19th century, fragments left over from his failed attempts to create an autobiography but retained by him as containing enough material and honesty to satisfy his desires. Third is the real heart of the book: oral dictations that left Twain free to dart and drift wherever his thoughts led him, free of any rigid structure; this section is most open to casual browsing. And fourth are lengthy notes and comments from the editors on Twain's text and dictations, correcting factual errors and expanding upon details.

    Reading the dictations is as near as one could hope to be sitting in a room with Twain, listening to him ramble along, mixing trivial events of forty or sixty years before with headlines from today's newspaper -- an effect that Twain was deliberately creating -- and dizzyingly flipping the pages of the calendar back and forth. Imagine Twain sitting there with a cigar and perhaps a glass of Scotch whiskey. Imagine yourself with the cigar and Scotch. It is wonderful, in the true, fundamental sense of that word.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read But NOT on Kindle, November 20, 2010
    Through this autobiography I am coming to gain even greater respect for this person I have admired for most of my own 74 years. A marvelous account of his life.

    However, because of poor eyesight I am reading the ebook version on my iPad using the Kindle reader. About 30% of the book is composed of clarifications and annotations by editors of the work. Unfortunately, those notes are in a separate section of the book and reference Twain's commentary by page number. However, the ebook version for the Kindle eliminates ALL traces of page numbering in favor of a digital code for each line. Thus there is no possible way to find the information that is being referred to in the editors comments. If possible stick to the hard copy or find a different digital ebook which retains the page references....I will for volumes 2 and 3.

    3-0 out of 5 stars To Potential Readers and Gifters, December 1, 2010
    It really should be made clear just what this book is and isn't. It is a completist's edition of a project Twain talked about for years but never actually sat down and wrote. In this scholarly volume, roughly one-third of the massive book details the process of its compilation, by Twain and by the editors (his contemporaries as well as the present ones), and includes what might today be called "outtakes" (several of which are quite interesting and enjoyable), pieces determined not to be intended as part of the Autobiography. One reader commented that "the book needs an editor". That misses the point; the scholarly editing is masterful. It COULD not credibly be edited in the sense of cutting it down as one might a contemporary manuscript to make it suitable for publication.
    Another one-third of the tome consists of scholarly notes explaining many of the references in the text. Many of these are clarifications of people (some major, some insignificant)to whom Twain refers, or locations. In many cases these are extraneous to all but the most scholarly or the compulsive who needs to know who EVERYbody is and cannot determine it by context. In some cases, they correct lapses in Twain's memory (he clearly didn't research or check many of his facts)
    Only one-third of this volume is the Autobiography itself, and it is only mildly interesting. It is certainly not a chronological narrative, much of it was dictated by an aging and bitter man(part of its sardonic charm), and much of it--- amazingly--- is drawn from a biography of Twain written, as a child, by his beloved daughter, which Twain explicates, albeit through the filter of the subsequent and ongoing grief Twain suffered since her youthful death.
    My eyesight is lousy but I was untroubled by the type. I read it in book form, but I can see where it might be problematic on kindle; one has to skip back and forth between the text and the notes, and kindle may not lend itself to that (I wouldn't know). The sheer bulk of the book is indeed troublesome, and one will need two bookmarks, one for text and one for notes (as I often use in reading History).
    Lastly, what remains as the "Autobiography"--- the reason, I think, most people would read this edition---is not terribly interesting nor funny. Fortunately, there is so much of Twain that is, and that is in print and easily available, and if one wants to read of Twain's earlier life, I would suggest reading or rereading Life on the Mississippi or his other (in a sense and ironically) more "autobiographical" works. The Library of America volume including Life... (as well as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer) contains copious but manageable notes and biographical information. My opinion is that it would make a better gift than this to all but academics and (pardon me) twainiacs.

    5-0 out of 5 stars THE literary event of THREE centuries, October 19, 2010
    Publication of the unabridged, uncensored autobiography of America's greatest writer is not only the American literary event of the century, it is the American literary event of THREE centuries: the 19th, during which most of the events occurred; the 20th, during the first decade of which Twain actually wrote it; and the 21st, during which it is finally seeing the light of day.

    Having previously read the excerpts from the autobiography published in Twain's lifetime, I can honestly say that IMO they rank in the top tier of Twain's work in terms of quality of writing, insight, humor, provocation, emotional power, and just pure verbal delight.

    Typical of Twain's relentless thrusting off the shackles of tradition and convention even while exploring his past, Twain intentionally wrote (actually, dictated) his autobiography in a sort of stream of consciousness manner, rather than telling the story chronologically. Brilliantly done. At any given moment in the writing (dictation), he talked about what interested him the most and what most vividly came to his mind, resulting in a most powerful, fascinating addition to one's Twain library.

    I do, however, share the criticism of some other reviewers about the font (typeface) size. It is quite small, small enough to be daunting to readers not already as enthusiastic about Twain as someone like myself. Oddly, the over 200 pages of explanatory notes and appendices are the same size font as Twain's manuscript - that material could've been printed in reduced typeface to permit more pages and more readable font for Twain's words!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Mark Twain's last book....his autobiography, November 4, 2010
    We know of Samuel Clemens as Mark Twain and his legacy as an author has endured with high esteem in the hundred years that have followed Clemens's death in 1910. What an extraordinary book this is...the first of three volumes about Samuel Clemens. At long last, the public is allowed to witness this remarkable man in his own words and it is an undeniable treat of the first order.

    Clemens is introduced by editor Harriet Elinor Smith, who explains the process of how Clemens wanted to be remembered. It would not be an autobiography beginning at birth and proceeding sequentially throughout his life, but rather one that was prompted by reminiscenses that sprang to mind. In this way, his thoughts became more collective and certainly more jubilant.

    The anecdotes that Clemens tells are an outright riot! Many of them are "laugh out loud" remembrances as he fiddles with the German language, suffers with memories of the conniving Countess in Florence, plays practical jokes (the one with President Cleveland's wife at the White House is one of my favorites) and sneers at wealthy men of his era. Along the way he comments on famous people whom he knows, including General Grant and Theodore Roosevelt. Clemens is an astute observer of his peers...his descriptions, both physical and psychological...are uncanny and hilarious. When his friend, the Reverend Joseph Twichell, inadvertently dies his hair green and must appear before his congregation on Sundays trying to suppress the deed, can imagine the reaction from his flock.

    It is this personal humor that makes the autobiography shine. We often think of the Victorian era (even in the United States) as a rather staid time, devoid of laughter and full of polemics and retributions. But Clemens refutes any notion to the contrary. His life bursts with energy and although his narrative is presented to the reader in the jargon of the day, it nonetheless carries the day with vibrancy, color and wit. I highly recommend this autobiography's first volume and await the remaining ones. It is one of the best treasures of the year.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A new view of Mark Twain, October 21, 2010
    "WOW! This volume is a wonder. For one thing, it provides something like a mystery novel perspective on the archeology of Samuel Clemens'/Mark Twain's autobiography. He wrote fragments to be part of this document over a period of four decades. Simply getting a sense of the architecture for this work desired by Twain is a contribution of this work.

    Also, Twain notes that he is unable to be consistently honest about his life. Nice candor! He demanded that his version not be published until 100 years after his death. Figuring out exactly what his version was represents a major effort by the editor and others involved in this project.

    The book is divided into several sections. First, a sixty page introduction, where we learn of the origins of the autobiography and how it developed. Also, the assumptions underlying this version. Next, "preliminary manuscripts and dictations, 1870-1905." The raw material of Twain's autobiography. Then, the first volume of the autobiography.

    But it is the end result presented by the editor, Harriet Elinor Smith, that makes this volume so important. Twain comes across as cantankerous, humorous, politically savvy. . . . Early on, he makes comments about slavery. His acerbic commentaries on friends and family show a real edge to his writing. Even the photo on the dust jacket suggests that this work is about a real person and is not just a "feel good" work.

    This is not a strictly chronological sequence. Twain moves back and forth in time. As he notes (Page 220): ". . .I hit upon the right way to do an Autobiography: start it at no particular time of your life; wander at your free will all over your life; talk only about the thing which interests you for the moment; drop it the moment its interest threatens to pale, and talk about the new and more interesting thing that has intruded itself into your mind meantime."

    This volume ends with a letter from Helen Keller, suggesting how untraditional this work is. It can almost be described as "pastiche," where Twain brings in bits and pieces of material to make the points that he wishes to make. After the autobiographical portion, we read the explanatory notes (which flesh things out).

    I find this a remarkable work, providing a view of Twain that is hardly candy coated, but yet seemingly gives us insights into his nature, life, and his genius. I find this work almost overwhelming. Well worth looking at. . . . Clearly a major work.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Privilege and deep pleasure, November 7, 2010
    What a privilege to be alive for the release of this first volume of Twain's autobiography. How sad that some readers are unable to find their way around the apparatus of the volume; there is a table of contents, yes? Ah, what would Twain say? One can but imagine.

    I found the explanation of the recording and assembling of the "Auto" extremely interesting. The business of book publishing hasn't changed much, the complications of assembling and tracking manuscript sections, the copyright dilemmas--all germaine to anyone who writes. And the images of the places and circumstances in which Twain dictated-- The reader perches on the porch stair in Dublin NH, or drinks a second coffee while Twain in his heavy silk nightshirt, leans back against his bedpillows, and speaks.

    The book is lively, agile, brilliant. Twain's voice seems cleaer and stronger, or richer, than in other works. What hilarious story telling, fierce opinions, indignation, humanity and wit. I have been laughing out loud while reading, and still burst into giggles picturing the 14-year-old Twain stark naked, dancing like a bear, not knowing he's being watched. What writer hasn't wanted to remonstrate, line by line, against fatuous editing? And with such cutting, snarky wit. I'm scarcely 200 pages into Twain's actual work, and I'm reading more and more slowly, dreading the end of the volume and all the while thinking of people to whom to give the book when Christmas comes.

    I often despair about the world at the beginning of the 21st century--but Twain's new work released this year brightens the atmosphere significantly--

    5-0 out of 5 stars Tremendous Book, October 28, 2010
    Other reviews have said what can be said about the content of this book. It is an immensely enjoyable read. having been a fan of Mark Twain's non-fiction writing for many, many years, I've thoroughly enjoyed this. This is a five-star book, I shall not rate the content on the choices of the publisher.

    On that, while the print is small, the book itself is enormous for a book of less than 800 pages. The weight of the paper contributes heavily to that. While I appreciate the need to relate the weight of the work in physical form, I believe better choices could have been made to use larger print on thinner paper in the same spacial volume.

    But I bought this book for its content, not its presentation. And the content is exceptional. I cannot wait for the other volumes.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing and unique piece of work!, November 3, 2010
    Whether you are a fan of Mark Twain or not this book is a history buffs dream come true. the bits and pieces and anecdotes are about the real world Sam Clemens lived in. An added bonus are the many pieces that give great insight into many, many important characters who lived in that period and who were friends, and sometimes not of Mark Twain. You will see quite clearly how Clemens perfected and kept the 'Mark Twain' persona distinct from himself. Not the most brilliant man in history, but one of the most astute students of the human psyche that has ever lived. Modern day psychologists are a joke when set against him.

    One caveat on reading the book. The first 200 pages are really only for the academic bibliophile and those retentive types concerned with the provenance of the sources. GO directly to page 200 or so and dive won't regret it. ... Read more

    7. The Confession: A Novel
    by John Grisham
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $28.95
    Asin: B0042XA37Q
    Publisher: Doubleday
    Sales Rank: 1
    Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    An innocent man is about to be executed.

    Only a guilty man can save him.

    For every innocent man sent to prison, there is a guilty one left on the outside. He doesn’t understand how the police and prosecutors got the wrong man, and he certainly doesn’t care. He just can’t believe his good luck. Time passes and he realizes that the mistake will not be corrected: the authorities believe in their case and are determined to get a conviction. He may even watch the trial of the person wrongly accused of his crime. He is relieved when the verdict is guilty. He laughs when the police and prosecutors congratulate themselves. He is content to allow an innocent person to go to prison, to serve hard time, even to be executed.

    Travis Boyette is such a man. In 1998, in the small East Texas city of Sloan, he abducted, raped, and strangled a popular high school cheerleader. He buried her body so that it would never be found, then watched in amazement as police and prosecutors arrested and convicted Donté Drumm, a local football star, and marched him off to death row.

    Now nine years have passed. Travis has just been paroled in Kansas for a different crime; Donté is four days away from his execution. Travis suffers from an inoperable brain tumor. For the first time in his miserable life, he decides to do what’s right and confess.

    But how can a guilty man convince lawyers, judges, and politicians that they’re about to execute an innocent man?

    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Bravo!
    I am an avid reader and have read countless legal thrillers over the years. As a retired Federal Judge with 24 years of experience, I can tell you that you will never find a more realistic portrait of how the legal system works and, more importantly, how often it does not. Run do not walk to your bookstore and grab this one. You won't be sorry.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Roller Coaster Ride of Suspense.
    This has been an awesome novel by Grisham. A must have for any Grisham fan's collection. The story is non stop action and seat of the pants suspense
    as they race against time to save an innocent man. It makes you really wonder just how many people have been executed or is sitting on Death Row that are truely innocent. Through DNA testing, many people have been exonerated or freed for crimes they didn't commit. Kinda makes you wonder just how bad our legal system is in many places. A speedy trial with little or no evidence has convicted many a person. How many lives of those that were freed and exonerated have been totally destroyed just because people still think they are guilty or how can one person mentally cope with the outside world after being in prison for so long. This book brought light on our legal system and just how easy it is to convict an innocent person of a wrongful crime.

    Grisham is truely a master of suspense as he takes you on a ride to fight to save an innocent man. Two thumbs up!!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of great writers, Grisham has produced a novel that seeks to end an injustice.
    You have to admire John Grisham. For decades, he has occupied a permanent position on bestseller lists around the world. Since 1991, the 24 books he has written have sold hundreds of millions of copies, but he seems reluctant to rest on his success. In recent years, he has broken away from the genre of "courtroom fiction" that made him a household name. In 2006, he wrote his first work of nonfiction, THE INNOCENT MAN: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town, about a man who was wrongfully sentenced to death in Oklahoma. Research and writing about the case made Grisham a vociferous and vigorous public opponent of the death penalty.

    In his latest novel, THE CONFESSION, Grisham takes his opposition to capital punishment to a higher level. In the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, Grisham has written a thriller about the race to save a wrongfully convicted man from execution. Along the way, he uses the pages of his book to indict a process that Justice Potter Stewart characterized in 1972 as "... cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual because those who are given the death penalty are among a capriciously selected random handful." While THE CONFESSION is fiction, it is based upon fact. Grisham has changed some names and locales, but the abuses of the criminal justice system recounted here are real and easily recognizable to anyone with knowledge of the death penalty and access to a computer search engine.

    Dont� Drumm is just days away from execution for the murder of Nicole Yarber. Her body was never found, but that fact did not prevent authorities in Texas from convicting Drumm and obtaining a death sentence. Clearly Grisham has chosen Texas as the book's venue because of its abysmal record in death penalty cases. This fictional case has elements of many horrendous examples of injustice that permeate the Texas legal system. Readers who shake their head in amazement at the accounts in THE CONFESSION should be forewarned that many of the outrages described by Grisham are based upon actual events in the Lone Star State.

    As Drumm awaits his fate, Keith Schroeder, the pastor of a small Lutheran church in Topeka, Kansas, receives an unusual visitor. Travis Boyette is a career criminal diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and has only months to live. Boyette bares his soul to Schroeder and confesses to Yarber's murder. His account is bolstered by his knowledge of where Yarber's body is buried. As the clock ticks towards Drumm's execution, Boyette furnishes additional details establishing that he did indeed kill Yarber, and the State of Texas is preparing to execute an innocent man.

    THE CONFESSION is an extraordinary narrative, because Grisham, through his advocacy against the death penalty, has become knowledgeable of the flaws and foibles of capital punishment. He uses the novel to expose those who are uninterested in justice and see the death penalty as a vehicle for achieving a political agenda. Included here are spot-on portrayals of the various participants in the death penalty drama and the contributions they make to create injustice. It starts with police officers who view the Constitution with disdain and believe that a hunch of guilt justifies any action that results in conviction. The harrowing steps to obtain Drumm's confession may be shocking, but they represent actual occurrences countenanced by the legal system. Sadly, that system is made up of prosecutors who view executions as a means to secure re-election and by judges who recognize that upholding Constitutional protections is not a way to win elections.

    Grisham recognizes that, in recent years, resources have been allocated to defend those on death row, but their lawyers have too many clients and not enough time. In addition to the actors in the system, there is a media culture that sensationalizes the crimes but pays little attention to the defects in the process. Grisham is spot-on in portraying to readers the flaws in the system that lead to injustice, and even worse, the killing of individuals who are factually innocent. He also is vivid and cryptic in his detailing of the final hours leading to execution. As the clock ticks and the lawyers fight to save Drumm, the tension can almost be felt from page to page. That an innocent man faces death only adds to that tension.

    John Grisham is to be applauded for accomplishing a difficult task. Many will read THE CONFESSION and surely ask questions about the death penalty and its application in American courts, and some minds may change. In the tradition of great writers, Grisham has produced a novel that seeks to end an injustice. The death penalty has been placed on trial in the pages of THE CONFESSION and stands convicted.

    --- Reviewed by Stuart Shiffman

    5-0 out of 5 stars A story to reckon with
    The Confession: A Novel
    A story to reckon with

    I'm a ghostwriter of nonfiction books, e.g. NYT bestseller "Son of Hamas" (SaltRiver, 2010). And when I write a book review, I usually stick to my genre. Some books, however, manage to straddle the lines.

    John Grisham's new offering, "The Confession," is fiction because the dust jacket says so and because the copyright page assures us that "Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental."

    Okay, but I live in Texas, which has lethally injected 464 people--more than any other state--since capital punishment was reinstituted in 1976. And "The Confession," while admittedly having one foot in fiction, has the other planted firmly in this troubling reality.

    Some readers might even accuse "The Confession" of being an apologetic, a finely-crafted, albeit thinly-veiled, advocacy piece for abolition of the death penalty.

    One thing is certain, if you're not willing to take an open-minded look at capital punishment, you'd do better to use your $28.95 to buy a skinny cinnamon dolce latte and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin for you and your significant other.

    "The Confession" puts a name and a face and a family on the 130 innocent people who have been released from death row since 1973.

    Dont� Drumm, accused of raping and murdering a cheerleader named Nicole Yarber, is the African American echo of Dr. Sam Sheppard, the Cleveland neurosurgeon convicted of beating to death his pregnant wife, Marilyn, in 1954. Sheppard spent nearly a decade in prison before his conviction was overturned in 1966. Like the Sheppard case, which inspired the TV series and motion picture "The Fugitive," the trial and imprisonment of Dont� Drumm is a travesty from the first.

    The police never found the bushy-haired murderer described by Dr. Sam. But Nicole's real killer comes forward just days before Dont�'s scheduled execution, confesses to the crime and tries to save the life of the innocent man. John Grisham masterfully builds the tension as serial rapist Travis Boyette tries to stop and reverse the well-oiled wheels of justice. It's another page-turner to add to the author's impressive bibliography.

    But "The Confession" lingers after all the loose strings are neatly tied up in the Epilogue. It nags you and tugs at you. It plays over and over in your mind like summer re-runs, refusing to disappear until you deal with it. It refuses to let itself be just another entertaining read.

    It has a definite aftertaste. Not unpleasant, but insistent.

    Even if you manage to put it out of your mind, it will be there, staring you in the face, the next time the evening news announces the pending execution of another death row inmate. And it will look you in the eye and ask, "What if they're wrong again?"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Vintage Grisham
    Another amazing tale by John Grisham. The characters are so real and easy to identify with. I was not only entertained and captivated by the story but forced to think about the issues and examine my feelings on them. My father was on a jury several years ago for a murder case of a teenage girl. It was one of the hardest things I ever saw him go through. I am much more able to understand why they came back with the life sentence without the possibility of parole now. Thanks Mr. Grisham for the insight into the world of death penalties and appeals! Some may not like "the lack of closure" in the endings of Grisham's books. I find it refreshing. We don't generally get the exact ending we are looking for in real life either plus it gives the reader the opportunity to write the rest of the story on their own. Great read!! ... Read more

    8. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    by Lewis Carroll
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQV3QA
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have read (no exagerration)
    While this is generally considered a "children's book", Alice In Wonderland can only be fully appreciated by adults or teenagers. It contains so many private jokes, grammar puns, and other such stuff that a child would not understand it, really. I first read it when I was in first grade, a rather hard book really for first graders, and loved it incredibly. But rereading every year of my life since then (I am now fifteen) one finally can truly relish the great puns and imaginative ideas that Carroll (or Dodgson, his real name) placed within this extremely random book. Yes, there really isn't much of a single plot. It jumps from place to place. Just like a real dream. I don't understand why some people think that this is "scary" for little children though. C'mon, the Wizard of Oz and Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes (when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall- if little children aren't afraid of THAT, I don't what would scare them) is more frightening than this beautifully-crafted story. Note that the Queen of Hearts, though she has an insatiable urge to decapitate every person she sees, never really kills anyone- the Griffin says so. It's not frightening, rather, it's full of what little children like- randomness, smiling cats, violent-tempered queens, talking rabbits, and imaginary animals. If one is discovering this book for the first time, let it enchant you. If you are re-discovering this book, find in it the things you couldn't find before. If you are simply re-reading it for the fiftieth time (like me), then enjoy every single moment of it. It really is one of the best books I have read, right up there with- dare I say it- Colour Purple and Les Miserables. Yes, even Les Miserables.

    5-0 out of 5 stars In order to understand life and remain sane
    I have this book. It is beautifully illustrated. I do not understand the comment of a previous reviewer who complained about the number of illustrations. Nearly every page is beautifully illustrated. Every chapter is introduced with a two-page illustration. There are numerous two-page and full single-page illustrations throughout the book. I'm an adult who fell in love with this story when I saw Disney's Alice in Wonderland. This is a worthy addition to my collection of things Carroll. I recommend "The Wasp in a Wig" if you can find it. The end of this Alice... has a nice and concise description of Carroll's writing of the book, photographs of the cover and first page of Carroll's handwritten first version, and a wonderful tribute to John Tenniel, the illustrator of the first published edition who provided the classic drawings nearly all of us recognize. Buy this book for your kids but teach them to handle it carefully; buy this book for yourself even if you only have cats to read it to.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A colorful new 'Alice In Wonderland' edition, that puts a new spin on the timeless tale
    Young Alice has never been a patient child. Therefore, as she is sitting along the riverbank, listening to her sister drone on and on as she reads passages from a slightly boring book, Alice begins to find her mind wandering. After all, this particular book has no pictures to capture the eye. Alice begins thinking about doing something else, making a daisy chain, or climbing a tree, but she's too lazy to leave her comfortable spot. So, as she gazes about her, she finds herself drifting off to sleep, and soon she has spotted a White Rabbit dressed in fancy garb. She begins chasing the elusive rabbit, but quickly finds herself falling down a very deep rabbit hole that she had not seen previously. Alice is frightened as she tumbles down and down, but soon finds herself in a new world. A world not filled with dirt and daisies, but, rather filled with long hallways, and houses that are smaller than Alice herself. Soon, Alice begins encountering characters of all shapes and sizes. To the confusing Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, to the riddle-loving, smiling kitty known as the Cheshire Cat; all the way to the delightfully zany Mad Hatter who loves throwing tea-parties, and the vicious Queen of Hearts. But, as Alice continues wandering through this wondrous world of magic, where animals talk and dance, and even dress in fancy clothes, she begins to wonder how on earth she will ever find a way out of this backwards environment, and back to her sister, sitting upon the riverbank. For even though lazing about on the riverbank can be incredibly boring, sometimes it is preferred when your life is in danger by an evil ruler.

    I do not have to tell you how much I adore the tale of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Since I was a young child I have been enamored by Alice's adventures to Wonderland, where she met an array of lovable characters who made you question the sanity of this backwards place, and the people who reside there. From the film to the pop-up books, and everything in between - Alice has been something I have cherished. Therefore, when I stumbled upon Alison Jay's newest edition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, I could not pass up the opportunity to call it my own. The perfect thing about this edition is that the font is quite large, which makes it easier for younger readers to enjoy the tales of Alice on their own. The second thing I adore about this edition, of course, are the illustrations. Alison Jay is a magnificent artist who has laced almost every page with full-color illustrations of Alice and the various people and things she encounters during her trip to Wonderland. From the intelligent Caterpillar, to the delicious pink-frosting covered cupcakes she shares with the Mad Hatter at his tea party; and the delightful, yet strange game of flamingo and hedgehog croquet played with the Queen of Hearts, to Alice's trial with the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle. Each and every illustration is enjoyable to look at, and truly brings Lewis Carroll's words to life. A colorful new ALICE IN WONDERLAND edition, that puts a new spin on the timeless tale.

    Erika Sorocco

    5-0 out of 5 stars Master Illustration meets Alice
    It is wonderful to discover another classic of children's literature illustrated by Robert Ingpen. It is a beautiful book. Even if you already own another copy or other copies of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you should add this book to your collection.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Surprising Things in Here that Are Not in Other Alice Editions
    The book is delightful, but I'm not talking about the story of Lewis Carrol itself. I'm talking, literally about the book -- its size, texture of pages, color of endpapers, texture of dustcover, that it has a built-in silky bookmark and so on. (This is one book in which it is the right thing to do to judge a book by its cover.) I'm also referring to the extra material, though. First are the illustrations which are really cool. Then there is plenty of commentary on the illustrations. There is also commentary on the Author, Illustrator, Foreward writer and even commentary on the typography of the book. Finally, the Foreward is amazing. I don't know if I agree with all that the Foreward writer says, but that Foreward sure helps to build your vocabulary. I've had six philosophy courses and I still had to look up dozens of words in the Foreward. Really advanced, arcane or even never-heard-of words -- why?, beats me. You would need a Ph.D. in literature to know all the words without a dictionary. So whether you're an adult wanting to increase your vocabulary or you want to buy a nice little book that is a delight itself in its physical being as a book, this is the Alice to buy. ... Read more

    9. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth
    by Jeff Kinney
    list price: $13.95 -- our price: $6.49
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 0810984911
    Publisher: Amulet Books
    Sales Rank: 6
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Greg Heffley has always been in a hurry to grow up. But is getting older really all it’s cracked up to be?


    Greg suddenly finds himself dealing with the pressures of boy-girl parties, increased responsibilities, and even the awkward changes that come with getting older—all without his best friend, Rowley, at his side. Can Greg make it through on his own? Or will he have to face the “ugly truth”?

    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent book! My niece loves this book too!
    *** Dec. 6, 2010
    My niece loves this book too. She loves the humor, the simple amusing cartoons, and the funny jokes in it.

    *** Nov. 30, 2010
    Greg and Rowley are best friends.
    But Greg's dad didn't like Rowley too much, because he thought Rowley was an accident prone kid, so Rowley may ruin his 'warfield' accidently. And Rowley's dad didn't like Greg, either, because two kids liked to do silly things together at home. Nowadays, many parents hope that their kid behaves properly. Reading good books are very important for kids. A good book is a good teacher.This book presents humorous stories that could make kids become more considerate. I feel very happy when my kid read this book and talk to me about the stories in the book.

    *** Nov. 27, 2010
    Greg's mom and dad had very different interests. She tried to train him to become more romantic while he only wanted to play his war games. He had to sit beside her to watch the romantic movies as she said so, then he'd try to slip out whenever possible. This is what happens to many couples every day. Reading this book makes me think about own daily life more objectively.

    *** November 9, 2010
    Greg's a very self-centered smart young schooler. His Dad wanted him to live up his potential, but often he had his own ideas. Greg had to learn how to communicate with his brother, though it's not a easy job. First he had to think and learn how to talk to his brother, because his brother was the person picking up Greg after school everyday. Greg's brother became really mad after Greg talked to him about how to drive his car. Finally Greg and his brother had a fight. Greg's mom had been a preschool teacher, so she thought she was very good at handle the situation. But Greg thought it didn't work at all. The book successfully illustartes Greg's thought processes. It seems like an actual diary in words and amusing pictures about Greg's daily life at home and at school.
    My son is a reluctant reader, but he really likes to read this book. I also enjoyed reading it! I would like to recommend this book to all schoolers, parents, teachers, and librarians.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Last book of the series (so far) didn't disappoint!
    Another very funny installment. If you haven't already read all of the previous books, you must read them first! The story of Greg's life continues. My favorite part from this book is, "When you're a little kid, nobody ever warns you that you've got an expiration date. One day you're hot stuff and the next day you're a dirt sandwich." :-) Great, funny stuff!

    5-0 out of 5 stars He loved it.
    My son has all of the books in this series. He says, 'It's one of the best series' ever.' He was very excited to get the newest book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great!
    Read in one sitting when it arrived. It has bee re-read and re-enjoyed. If you liked the others, you will like this one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Thank You Jeff Kinney!
    For any of you who have a child who does not want to read, I suggest any of the Wimpy Kid books! I wish Jeff Kinney could come out with a book a week! My son does not like to read and fights me tooth and nail to read, however, he usually reads these books within 24-48hours now and asks to "Pre-order" them when he knows there is one coming out.

    Thank you Jeff Kinney! and continue the great work!

    5-0 out of 5 stars my son's review (age 9)
    Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth is AWESOME!!!!! This book is very very funny. It involves Greg wanting to grow up too fast. Things go a little wild at Uncle Gary's wedding. Also, he has to have "the Talk' with his grandma Gammie, but after "the Talk" Greg might have to take her advice, or he might have to face the 'Ugly Truth." I recommend this book for people who have a good sense of humor. ... Read more

    10. Watchlist
    by Jeffery Deaver
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $25.95
    Asin: B003719FZK
    Publisher: CDS/Vanguard Press
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Watchlist is a unique collaboration by twenty-one of the world’s greatest thriller writers including Lee Child, Joseph Finder, David Hewson, S.J. Rozan, Lisa Scottoline, and Jeffery Deaver, who conceived the characters and set the plot in motion; In turn, the other authors each wrote a chapter and Deaver then completed what he started, bringing each novel to its startling conclusion. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed
    I saw this book in the library and recognizing a few of the writers, thought I'd give it a try. I couldn't put it down. The novellas were written 2 years apart yet the story easily flowed. I loved the way each writer moved the story in another direction, leaving the following author to pick up the plot and add his/her own twist. Jeffery Deaver wrapped up both stories. Now I'll be looking for books by the authors I didn't recognize and I hope they'll do this again.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Reminder Of Why I Stopped Reading Thrillers
    I stopped reading mysteries and thrillers a few years ago because they weren't as good as this. Lately though, I've been stumbling on more and more books like Watchlist. Fast paced, catch your breath moments, can't put it down.
    I downloaded this when it was free and feel like I've won the lottery.
    I highly recommend to anyone.
    If it can make a chick-lit lover happy, I suppose this book could make just about anyone happy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An experience you do not want to miss
    The idea behind the two short novels that comprise WATCHLIST --- THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT and THE COPPER BRACELET --- was truly groundbreaking. Take the concept of a somewhat shadowy organization called the Volunteers (headed up by a late middle-aged, ex-war crimes investigator named Harold Middleton), whose purpose is to hunt down war criminals and prevent new crimes from happening. Open and close a book with chapters written by Jeffery Deaver, the creator of the concept, then let the world's top thriller authors each contribute a chapter, taking the story in a never-ending set of twists and turns from beginning to end.

    There have been similar projects --- though not quite of this scale --- done in the mystery, romance and science fiction genres, but what is truly groundbreaking here is the manner in which THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT was released. Not only was it an original audiobook (one that earned a 2008 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year), it also released a chapter at a time on a weekly basis, thus truly earning classification as a "serial thriller." Not content to rest on those considerable laurels, Deaver, accompanied by a stellar cast of thriller authors, did it again in 2009 with THE COPPER BRACELET. WATCHLIST brings both works together for the first time in print, the result demonstrating that the experiment works as well, if not better, in the traditional book medium.

    THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT, as one might guess from the title, is concerned with classical music, at least peripherally. Middleton is bequeathed with what appears to be an original handwritten score composed by Frederic Chopin that heretofore has never seen the light of day. The score is both more and less than it seems, however. Practically from the moment it passes into Middleton's possession, it begins to set off a chain reaction of events that puts Middleton --- as well as his pregnant daughter --- in terrible danger. He barely arrives in Washington, D.C. from Warsaw before he is on the run, accused of murdering two policemen even as he is pursued by a shadowy group of thugs who will stop at nothing to get their hands on the document in his possession.

    The only people whom Middleton can truly trust are his fellow Volunteers, who themselves are hamstrung by government officials who seem to be operating at cross purposes to them. Events reach a climax when the work in Middleton's possession is scheduled to be performed by a young woman who is a virtuoso on the violin. Her performance of the long-lost work will herald either a new cultural era or provide the signal for the opening of an unthinkable disaster.

    While THE CHOPIN MANUSCRIPT is more of a plot-driven work, THE COPPER BRACELET focuses more on Middleton and the personalities of the characters involved, without detriment to the pacing, which, as with its predecessor, moves along at breakneck speed. As indicated by the title, the Copper Bracelet is the focus of Middleton and the Volunteers as they race to prevent what appears to be the sabotage of a major construction project that is fraught with adverse political ramifications. The key to the plot seems to be contained in the drawings of a bracelet worn by an assassin, and its discovery sets off a chase that leads from Paris to Moscow to Kashmir.

    Middleton, aided by the Volunteers --- one of whom is his former lover --- has few other allies, and betrayals and death are his constant companions. What he discovers is that the plot involves far more than he originally imagined, with ramifications that will extend beyond a disputed border and across the world.

    A great deal of the fun involved in reading the novellas that comprise WATCHLIST is the experience of having your favorite thriller writers --- Lee Child, Gayle Lynds, P. J. Parrish, David Hewson, John Miller and Brett Battles, among many others --- treading far outside of their comfort zones and riffing in unfamiliar territory. It's kind of like walking into a small club and finding several of your favorite musicians taking successive solos around a common theme. The plots are fast-paced and the paragraphs fly by so fast that a seat belt should be included in the binding. It's an experience you do not want to miss, not only for the names with which you might be familiar, but also for the ones that you don't know.

    --- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub ... Read more

    11. Fairy Tales Every Child Should Know
    by Hamilton Wright Mabie
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMLNHI
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    4-0 out of 5 stars No Frills Fairy Tales, March 31, 2009
    This is collection of well known fairy tales by Grimm's and others, with an introductory on the history and importance of fairy tales for children. Most of them would benefit from illustrations, but if you just want the text, it's fine. Since I plan on handmaking a picture-book for my nieces, it suits my purpose. I do wish the Table of Contents was clickable, however.

    The book includes:

    One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes
    The Magic Mirror
    Hansel and Grethel
    The Story of Aladdin
    The White Cat
    The Second Voyage of Sinbad
    The Golden Goose
    The Twelve Brothers
    Tom Thumb
    Puss in Boots
    Blue Beard
    Sleeping Beauty
    Jack and the Beanstalk
    Little Red Riding Hood
    Jack the Giant Killer
    The Three Bears
    The Princess On The Pea
    The Ugly Duckling
    Beauty and the Beast

    Navigation for this ebook as well as others without active table of contents is simplified by adding your own highlight on the story title or chapter # as it first comes up. I got this version yesterday eventhough my wife has it on her kindle and complained about no table of contents. Last night as I was reading the stories, I highlighted the story title as if first appeared on the screen. After doing this several times, I went to view your notes/highlights, and lo and behold there they were with location # and title, highlight the title and press the 5 way control and you are now at the beginning of the story..... great for re-reading those stories to those grandkids who always want to hear the story again and again and again.
    Hope this helps to all who are concerned about "No Active Table of Contents".

    4-0 out of 5 stars Nice collection, July 28, 2009
    As others have mentioned, this book is difficult to navigate because the table of contents is not clickable. But the content is definitely there and is very enjoyable.

    4-0 out of 5 stars fun pass-time, March 28, 2009
    This volume contains a number of fairy-tales that adults will "recognize" as they are similar to popular favorites (i.e. Cinderella, etc.), but it also had some good ones that I had never heard.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good selection of fairytales for free download, but navigation is cumbersome, January 23, 2010
    I downloaded this as a Kindle title some time ago and just started reading it today. Like many other reviewers, I too found the navigation cumbersome - the table of contents is not clickable. However, it is free, so I guess I should not complain too much. The fairy tales in this book are:

    One eye, two eyes, three eyes (Grimm's)
    The Magic Mirror (Grimm's)
    The Enchanted Stag (Grimm's)
    Hansel and Gretel (Grimm's)
    The Story of Aladdon; or, The Wonderful Lamp (Arabian Nights)
    The History of Ali Baba, and of The Forty Robbers Killed By One Slave (Arabian Nights)
    The Second Voyage of Sinbad The Sailor (Arabian Nights)
    The White Cat (From the tale by the Comtesse d'Aulnoy)
    The Golden Goose (Grimm's Fairy Tales)
    The Twelve Brothers (Grimm's)
    The Fair One With The Golden Locks (From the tale by the Comtesse d'Aulnoy)
    Tom Thumb (first written in prose in 1621 by Richard Johnson)
    Blue Beard (from the French tale by Charles Perrault)
    Cinderella; or, The Little Glass Slipper (from the French tale by Charles Perrault)
    Puss in Boots (from the French tale by Charles Perrault)
    The Sleeping Beauty in The Wood (from the French tale by Charles Perrault)
    Jack and the beanstalk (written in French by Charles Perrault)
    Jack the Giant Killer (from the old British legend told by Geoffrey of Monmouth, of Corineus the Trojan)
    Little Red Riding Hood (Perrault)
    The Three Bears (Robert Southey)
    The Princess on the Pea (Hans Christian Andersen)
    The Ugly Duckling (HCA)
    The Light Princess (George Macdonald)
    Beauty and the Beast (Madame Gabrielle de Villeneuve)

    Being free, I would say this is excellent value except for the tedious navigation. Personally, this is for my own reading pleasure. I have a five-year-old daughter, and she loves lots of illustrations that accompany fairy tales, so this does not exactly interest her (except perhaps on a plane trip where having these fairy tales on the Kindle makes for convenient reading).

    4-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read., September 9, 2009
    Bought this one while my Kindle was being shipped to me and FINALLY got around to reading it this week. There are several tales I had awareness of but had never read and only one or two that I had never heard of before. This is not a repeat read for me, but I am glad I got to catch up on all these stories that I missed out on in childhood.

    A fun collection overall. I particularly enjoyed the "Arabian Nights" section, since those were completely new to me. Since it is fairly short and free, I recommend this to all Kindle owners.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Navigation Information, August 9, 2010
    I notice that more than one person is unhappy with the navigation in this book. However, if you go to the "Popular Highlights" at the bottom of the screen, it is easily navigated. You can also choose a "Location" number, but since I only bought the book this morning, have not yet figured out how you know where you are in terms of a number. There is also the "search" option. If you know the title or even a word in the title, you can search for it. You can bookmark a place with a location number, if it's something you will want to return to frequently - as I know happens when reading to young children. I know this all takes longer than just clicking on the Table of Contents, but it's still okay. Hope you find this useful.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, January 1, 2010
    One of the first free books I've grabbed for my kindle.
    Yea, wish they have made the table of content links for the easy navigation.
    If you want, do a bit of an extra work for indexing...
    Do a find (for example, type in "sleeping beauty") which will return only two results in this case.
    Navigate to it and create a book mark.

    Wish for illustrations and good formatting...
    but again, being able to read on these childhood favorites for free is.... priceless (literally)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Five Stars If It Had Better Navigation, November 16, 2009
    I've read this on my DX to my daughters every night for the past several weeks. Be sure not to stop before you reach "The Light Princess"; It's the most well written fairy Tale I've ever read.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Search on "CHAPTER" for a clickable table of contents, October 7, 2010
    Navigation is possible because each story is preceded by the word CHAPTER. If you search on the word CHAPTER, you get what looks very much like a clickable Table of Contents. ... Read more

    12. Fireflies in December
    by Jennifer Erin Valent
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $12.99
    Asin: B001NXDHE4
    Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
    Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    2010 Christy Award winner!
    Jessilyn Lassiter never knew that hatred could lurk in the human heart until the summer of 1932 when she turned 13. When her best friend, Gemma, loses her parents in a tragic fire, Jessilyn's father vows to care for her as one of his own, despite the fact that Gemma is black and prejudice is prevalent in their southern Virginia town. Violence springs up as a ragtag band of Ku Klux Klan members unite and decide to take matters into their own hands. As tensions mount in the small community, loyalties are tested and Jessilyn is forced to say good-bye to the carefree days of her youth. Fireflies in December is the 2007 winner of the Christian Writers Guild's Operation First Novel contest, and a 2010 Christy Award winner.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars ...a tight, finely crafted novel
    "The summer I turned thirteen, I thought I'd killed a man."

    In these first eleven words of Fireflies in December we realize Jessilyn Lassiter's world is pregnant with change. Not only is she walking that tenuous line between childhood and womanhood, but during the summer of 1932 Jessilyn finds herself in the crosshairs of man's hatred for his fellow man.

    When her best friend Gemma's parents are tragically killed in a fire, Jessilyn's father takes the girl in. No matter that she's as dark as coffee and sticks out in their white family like a sheep in a cow field. Harley Lassiter sees people for their hearts, not their skin color. If only the rest of Calloway County felt the same way. Soon Jessilyn is ostracized by whites and blacks alike. This racial mingling "just ain't done", and it isn't long before the Lassiter family becomes a target for something much more sinister, and deadly. The Klu Klux Klan.

    In Fireflies in December Valent has skillfully dropped us into the middle of southern Virginia during a turbulent time in our country's history. Less than seventy years had passed since the Civil War, and unfortunately not everyone embraced its outcome. The Great Depression's talons still clung to many families. "Things were poor, especially in our parts, and for having a working farm and a good truck, we were fortunate. We even had some conveniences that other people envied, like a fancy icebox and a telephone..."

    Fear has a way of bringing out the worst in folks, and perhaps that's why racism was still so prevalent in the south of 1932. As I read this novel, I found myself amazed that such hatred existed. Certainly racism still shows up in today's America, but during the year we've elected our first African-American President it's striking how far we've come.

    Valent knows how to involve us in the setting. We feel the oppressive humidity of summer and hear the cicadas buzzing. We lie on our backs in bed all day with Jessilyn and Gemma because moving feels like wading through a furnace. And without bogging us down in pages of narrative we understand the anguish Jessilyn suffers when she thinks she killed a man. In fact, Valent could've used more exposition and it wouldn't have detracted. Perhaps it would've added even more depth to this coming-of-age story.

    Fireflies In December brings to mind the themes and characters of To Kill A Mockingbird. Jessilyn is older than Scout, but just as stubborn. Their fathers stand by what they believe is right, even when everyone else is against them. Jessilyn and Scout both find their lives in danger. However, Valent has a voice and nack for description all her own. Her scenes move quickly, and even if you're not a historical fiction fan you'll find yourself drawn in. People are people, whether it be 1932 or 2003. We all feel pain; we're all searching for meaning. And this becomes clearer as you turn the pages.

    The spirituality is never heavy-handed, being shown rather than told, for the most part. The Lassiters are practicing Christians, and they talk about that aspect of their lives like they would anything else. But even when Jessilyn's parents do share a spiritual insight with her or talk about Jesus it doesn't feel like a sermon. We're listening, too, and we glean their nuggets of wisdom.

    Fireflies in December is a tight, finely crafted novel that challenges us to root out any hint of prejudice in our own hearts, whether we're black or white, male or female, rich or poor. That's a message that'll stand the test of time.

    --Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fireflies in December
    I just finished one of the most delightful novels I have read in a long time. Jessilyn Lassister is a captivating 13 year old girl in the South in the early 1930's. Although this book is suited for all age groups I found as a woman in my sixties I had the joy of reliving that summer I turned 13 along with Jessie. Jennifer Valent invited the reader into the pages of the novel and as each page turned one could feel what Jessie felt, the heat, the emotions, etc. As other reviewers have mentioned it will cause you to search your own heart to check your prejudice level. It raised the question would you respond to Jessie's family decision the same way as the town or would you be more like Miss Cleta? I will be keeping my eye out for new books from Jennifer who has a real story telling gift.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Incredible First Novel
    Color me "amazed." But I knew from the first word of this novel that I would be hooked until I read the last. I knew that my own writing would somehow take second place to the reading of someone else's. I knew I'd found a part of the South -- my own heritage -- that I stand proud in the shadow of and that causes me to hang my head in shame.

    I had a few questions along the way, however. For one, even though Gemma had no biological family left, why wouldn't someone of "color" come forward to take her in? While I understand why the "whites" in town were upset with the Lassiter's decision to raise Gemma, why weren't the "coloreds?" (Remember, I grew up in the South, too, and I know both sides of this card.)

    But even with the questions, I was reminded of my family heritage, rich in reaching across race lines. Many, many years ago my great uncle and great aunt "took in" a black child who was severely burned (my great-uncle was the physician who treated him) and whose family had rejected him because of his "pink" skin. NFL great George Rogers was practically a member of my 2nd cousins family. For those memories alone, this book was valuable to me.

    One other issue I had was that I was not fully aware of the era until about 1/3 way through the book. I may have missed the clues before that ... I began this book on an airplane with lots of little kids anxious to get to Disney! So, take that issue with a grain of salt.

    Bottom line: do I recommend this to other readers??? Only those I really, really like!!! :) I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I cannot wait to see what comes next from Jennifer Erin Valent!

    Eva Marie Everson
    Author: Things Left Unspoken: A Novel

    5-0 out of 5 stars I can't believe I got this book for free!
    Summers were always difficult as Jessilyn Lassiter tells us. The summer of 1932 would be no exception for her. She was thirteen that year when she ran head on into the Ku Klux Klan. To her horror, she discovered some were her friends and neighbors.

    Jessilyn and her family took in little black Gemma as her parents died in a fire that was caused by lightning. No one thought that such problems could arise by an act of kindness as the Klan attempts to drive the family and adopted child out of their small Virginia community.

    Jessilyn was convinced she killed one of the members one night as she stood on the family front porch defending the family with her father's shotgun. She knew she hit at least one member as she fired several shots in the air to try to scare them away.

    That summer became terrible for her as she lived with mixed feelings of guilt. She become even more confused with her thirteen year old mind as it threw jealousy and puppy love into the mix. She was falling in love with the hired farm hand who was not much older than herself.

    As with many thirteen year olds, Jessilyn found it difficult to express herself to her parents as she worked on becoming mature in her own ideas about life in the south in 1932.

    Jennifer has done an excellent job of putting the reader back into time and allowing us a taste of what the country felt like. I loved the way that she wrote in the deep southern language used then. The dialogue was fascinating to me. She consistently wrote this book well.

    I gave her five stars and would recommend it to many people for a variety of reasons. All age groups would enjoy it in my humble opinion.

    Good job Jennifer!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
    Jennifer Erin Valent's debut novel is excellent. Her finely crafted characters and storyline made this a hard one to put down. Young adults as well as grown women and men will enjoy this historical fiction journey to the depression era and the deep prejudice that marked it. Her hook grabs the reader and doesn't let go until the final page. Looking forward to her next novel. ... Read more

    13. Stuck in the Middle (Sister-to-Sister, Book 1)
    by Virginia Smith
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $6.99
    Asin: B001GMANO4
    Publisher: Revell
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement. That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut.Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Virginia Smith lives up to her newly won title of Writer of the Year (Mount Herman Writer's Conference) in Stuck In The Middle
    Stuck In The Middle is an aptly named book revolving around Joan Sanderson--whose life has been put on hold while she looks out for her Grandma, who is wedged between sisters that Joan thinks are far more gregarious and personable than she is, and who is stuck in a superficial relationship with God. Stuck, that is, until a handsome, single doctor with an intensely personal relationship with God rents the house next-door and involuntarily drags Joan out of her rut.

    As Joan struggles to break free, the reader is blessed with the genuine interactions between sisters, and family as a whole that Smith has woven into the story line so well. The dialogue is strong and realistic, the situations true to life and sometimes quite comical, and Joan, though a dejected character in many ways, is likeable and one you cheer for right from the beginning.

    This alone would have made the book an enjoyable read, but Smith along with entertaining the reader reinforces the need for a personal relationship with God. She takes Joan, a Christian who has had a superficial relationship with God into discovering how to connect on a deeper level. Smith also does an excellent job of portraying the fear that Joan's sisters have of the kind of Christian Joan wants to become simply because they don't understand it.

    Stuck In The Middle is not different than many other Christian fiction titles in that is has a spiritual message, but often, that message is dealt with in heavy handed and stilted way. Not Stuck In The Middle. This is the sort of book that while you read it you find yourself pleasantly entertained, seriously not wanting to put the book down even when you should be doing other things, and in the end you are surprised when you come away with a strong spiritual message.

    Stuck In The Middle has something for everyone--romance, shopping, dating advice, sibling rivalry, family and spiritual relationships, and real life issues like caring for elderly family members all wrapped up in an entertaining package. Pick it up, today. You won't be disappointed.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Characters Sparkle in "Stuck in the Middle"
    Viginia Smith does it again in "Stuck in the Middle". Her characters are realistic, artfully crafted, and endearingly flawed (aren't we all?) and will pull you right into the story from page 1. Here's a warning, though -- don't give the book as a gift unless you're prepared for trouble. Now I have several friends calling to complain that they're chomping at the bit to read the next installment in the series. Please bring us book 2 soon!!!

    5-0 out of 5 stars very good
    Once I got going (only a few pages in) I read it in one day. I was laughing hysterically at parts, and love a good heart-warming message with God at the center. Sending it onto my sister - the interactions of the sisters were very real - I have 3 of them!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Moving story about one woman's quest to break free
    Stuck in the Middle by Virginia Smith is the story of Joan Sanderson and her boring, going-nowhere life. She's been dumped by her long time boyfriend, Roger the Rat, her older sister is pregnant, and her beautiful younger sister has a terrific job. Joan lives with her mother and grandmother, who is becoming increasingly fragile. When a hunky doctor moves in next door, Joan sees what she's been missing, but little sister Tori also wants him. This book is far more than just chick-lit. Joan feels alienated from everyone around her. Her father left her as a young teen, and she resents her mother for his departure. She can't relate to God, because she doesn't feel like He is reaching out to her, but when she hears a missionary speak at her church, she feels the need to know God personally. Joan is a Christian like so many; she believes in God and has faith; she attends church regularly and does all the right things. But she's not connected to Him and hasn't experienced His wonder, until some chocolate ice cream shows up at just the right moment. Joan realizes that she can't get things right with her mother, sisters, or even the cute doctor, until she makes things right with God, and that means examining things in her past. Joan is believable and sympathetic, her heartache shows on every page as she struggles to do what's right without really knowing what that is. Very often our relationship with God has been influenced by our relationship with our earthly father, and this book is an excellent lesson on how to break free from the bonds of the past and security to find God. ... Read more

    14. Dracula
    by Bram Stoker
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JQUBRM
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
    I have never read the novel "Dracula" but with it being absolutely free for my absolutely wonderful Kindle, I decided to give it a shot. The book is written entirely in correspondence from the characters; letters to each other, diary entries, telegrams, etc. While I did have to use my built-in Kindle dictionary many times with the big (or antiquated) words, the book flowed freely and was a surprisingly easy read. Certain scenes were downright chilling. What's truly amazing is Stoker's creation of such an incredible monster that has stood the test of time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Full-Featured Critical Edition for Fans and Students.
    I'll comment on the features of the Norton Critical Edition of "Dracula", as reviews of the novel can be found elsewhere. The novel, itself, is reproduced from the 1897 British edition that was published by Archbald Constable and Company and is preceded by a short but useful Preface that discusses the contexts in which "Dracula" was written and received over a century ago. The text of the novel is amply footnoted. Not only are terms defined, but allusions are explained, and passages of particular interest are treated with some commentary. The footnotes are worthwhile, but easy to ignore if you prefer. I had reservations about the footnotes in the early chapters of the book. Too many of them referred to points later in the story, acting as minor spoilers. I found this stopped after the action moved to England, so it only applies to a small portion of the book. Following the text of the novel are sections on Contexts, Reviews and Reactions, Dramatic and Film Variations, and Criticism.

    "Contexts" includes some 19th century source material on vampires, Bram Stoker's working papers for the novel annotated by Christopher Frayling, and "Dracula's Guest", which was originally to be the novel's opening chapter, before Bram Stoker decided to situate the novel in Transylvania. The working papers are thoroughly uninteresting, and "Dracula's Guest" is not as chilling as the introduction that replaced it. "Reviews and Reactions" includes 5 reviews of the novel written shortly after it was published, in 1897 and in 1899, three of which are favorable.

    "Dramatic and Film Variations" contains an essay about "Dracula"'s theatrical adaptations, including a list of major plays, by David J. Skal, who wrote "Hollywood Gothic: The Tangled Web of Dracula from Novel to Stage to Screen" and is one of this edition's editors. An essay by Gregory Waller discusses Tod Browning's 1931 film "Dracula". Editor Nina Auerbach gives "Dracula" a feminist reading in her essay about the later film adaptations of the novel: the Hammer films of the 1950s and 1960s and John Badham's 1979 film. There is also a list of major film adaptations.

    "Criticism" includes 7 essays that represent widely varying interpretations of Bram Stoker's novel, including Oedipal, Marxist, sexual, gender reversal, xenophobic, and homoerotic interpretations. These essays vary in quality a great deal. The best, in my view, are Christopher Craft's "Gender and Inversion" and Stephen D. Arata's "Reverse Colonization" essays. But, taken together, all of the essays give insight into "Dracula"s continuing -in fact, ever-growing- popularity. The novel can be interpreted through virtually any doctrine. There is a chronology of events in Bram Stoker's life at the end of the book.

    If you plan to purchase a copy of "Dracula", this Norton Critical Edition provides the most material for your buck and the best footnotes that I've seen in any edition currently in print.

    5-0 out of 5 stars For the dead travel fast
    "Dracula" was not the first vampire novel, nor was it Bram Stoker's first book. But he managed to craft the ultimate vampire novel, which has spawned countless movies, spinoffs, and books that follow the blueprint of the Transylvanian count. Eerie, horrifying and genuinely mysterious, "Dracula" is undoubtedly the most striking and unique vampire novel yet penned.

    Real estate agent Jonathan Harker arrives in Transylvania, to arrange a London house sale to Count Dracula. But as the days go by, Harker witnesses increasingly horrific events, leading him to believe that Dracula is not actually human. His fiancee Mina arrives in Transylvania, and finds that he has been feverish. Meanwhile the count has vanished -- along with countless boxes filled with dirt.

    And soon afterwards, strange things happen: a ship piloted by a dead man crashes on the shore, after a mysterious thing killed the crew. A lunatic talks about "Him" coming. And Mina's pal Lucy dies of mysterious blood loss, only to come back as an undead seductress. Dracula has arrived in England -- then the center of the Western world -- and intends to make it his own...

    "Dracula" is the grandaddy of Lestat and other elegantly alluring bloodsuckers, but that isn't the sole reason why this novel is a classic. It's also incredibly atmospheric, and very well-written. Not only is it very freaky, in an ornate Victorian style, but it is also full of restrained, quiet horror and creepy eroticism. What's more, it's shaped the portrayal of vampires in movies and books, even to this day.

    Despite already knowing what's going on for the first half of the book, it's actually kind of creepy to see these people whose lives are being disrupted by Dracula, but don't know about vampires. It's a bit tempting to yell "It's a vampire, you idiots!" every now and then, but you can't really blame them. Then the second half kicks in, with accented professor Van Helsing taking our heroes on a quest to save Mina from Dracula.

    And along the way, while our heroes try to figure stuff out, Stoker spins up all these creepy hints of Dracula's arrival. Though he wrote in the late 19th-century manner, very verbose and a bit stuffy, his skill shines through. The book is crammed with intense, evocative language, with moments like Dracula creeping down a wall, or the dead captain found tied to the wheel. Once read, they stick in your mind throughout the book.

    It's also a credit to Stoker that he keeps his characters from seeming like idiots or freaks, which they could have easily seemed like. Instead, he puts little moments of humanity in them, like Van Helsing admitting that his wife is in an asylum. Even the letters and diaries are written in different styles; for example, Seward's is restrained and analytical, while Mina's is exuberant and bright.

    Even Dracula himself is an overpowering presence despite his small amount of actual screen time, and not just as a vampire -- Stoker presents him as passionate, intense, malignant, and probably the smartest person in the entire book. If Van Helsing hadn't thwarted him, he probably would have taken over the world -- not the Victorian audience's ideal ending.

    This particular edition has been made to look almost exactly like the very first edition, down to the illusively-tattered dust jacket and distinctive title print. It also contains an early, gushing newspaper review -- as well as a couple short chapters from Dacre Stoker's forthcoming sequel, "Dracula the Un-Dead."

    The excerpts in question are rather different from Bram's work (third person narrative) and takes place a couple decades later. We're reintroduced to a beloved character who is now a morphine junkie haunted by the past and the Jack the Ripper cases. It also introduces a new vampiric figure from history, which can twist the plot in intriguing directions.

    Intelligent, frightening and very well-written, "Dracula" is the well-deserved godfather of all modern vampire books and movies -- and its unique villain still dwarfs the more recent undead.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Audio Performance
    If, by want or necessity, you need to listen to Bram Stoker's classic tale then this is, without question, the best version to purchase. While there are numerous other offerings of the nefarious Count (and as a Dracula aficionado I have heard many of them) none, in my opinion, come close to Brilliant Audio's production. The use of multiple professional voice actors is the key. While most audio readings are done with one person reading all the parts, male as well as female, Brilliance employed numerous actors and cast them exceptionally well. Sheila Hart's portrayal of Mina is particularly good. This is a performance - not just a verbatim reading. I have enjoyed this audio book more times than I care to mention, and never grow tired of it. I whole-heartedly recommend it to you, good reader.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Dracula
    My first book read on my new Kindle... I could not put it down! Beautifully written, most engaging, and a wonderful opportunity to use so many features of the Kindle. Thank you for making this classic story available at no charge.

    5-0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE BEST EDITIONS OF THE NOVEL
    Everything I've read in the Norton Critical Editions is always very good. It of course includes the text of the work, usually complete (Herodotus was an exception). But most useful is a selection of critical opinion over time so that the reader is able to compare his own evaluation with that of others. And it is amazing what a non-professional (like me, in the field of literature) misses and how professional critics can deepen understanding. But read the novel first, and then the critics.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Pioneer of Vampires
    I looved this book... in addition to being a very entertaining story, it lets you know the way people thought and behaved in that era. It helped me expand my vocabulary a little, too.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Bram Stoker's Dracula: A Parable For Our Times
    Book Groups of America, put down your Oprah choices, your Eat, Pray, and Love drivel, your watered elephants, and read Bram Stoker's Dracula. I wanted to read some long books before my book-a-day project begins and Dracula was on the list of recommended must-reads. My son's English teacher was right, everyone should read this book.

    I finished Dracula last night after midnight. WIth a shiver I went off to bed and I dreamt of mist coming in under doors, bats beating against windows, garlic flowers and golden crucifixes. This novel is a really great read and ten million times better than any movie version ever made. The novel is deep and dense and scarily engaging, with compelling characters, great atmosphere, and a plot that teases thrillingly; Evil approaches, then withdraws, moves forward and is then pushed back again, if only until the sun sets and enabling darkness again descends.

    The novel reads like the metaphor used often by its characters: a chess match. The match is between Evil (Count Dracula and his lovely undead) and Good (Mina and Jonathan Harker, Dr. Seward, Professor Van Helsing, Lord Godalming and the brave American, Quincey Morris); the pawns include the lunatic Renfield and the lovely and beloved virgin Lucy Westerna, as well as many other minor characters dragged nefariously into Dracula's plot to infiltrate London.

    Clearly the novel is about temptations of the Devil being finally vanquished by the deep and intensely held faith of the righteous in their God: eternal life as offered by Count Dracula is spurned in favor of eternal paradise as offered by God.

    But the novel is also an appropriate, and apropos, parable about greed. Count Dracula is not satisfied with living only one life; he wants to live the durations of a hundreds of lives. His greed grows and grows, and he feeds on the blood of the oppressed to further power his driving ambition. Greed begets greed and Evil begets evil. There is no end in sight until the forces of Good combine their faculties of intelligence, observation, and action to overcome the Evil and save the world from greed gone wild. As a political commentary, Dracula is frighteningly astute (and makes a sound argument for a much-needed third party in this country, the intelligent, observant reformer party).

    Each character in the novel is well-defined and individually presented, each character grows and changes through the course of the novel; there is no stereotyping or predictability (even in Count Dracula). The heroine, Mina Parker, is viewed by the other characters through the lens of sexism but she is presented by Bram Stoker as intelligent, tenacious, and brave; she is never hysterically brave or mother-protecting-her-young brave, as so many movies and novels portray female bravery, but is wisely and timely brave.

    The plot moves forward through letters, journal entries, and stenographic recordings, all from the point of view of the various forces of Good; our unease grows into fear as we catch clues that our braver heroes miss. I stayed up way too late to reassure myself that in the end the clues were caught, interpreted, and used to solve the mystery of where and how to catch the vampire villain. Count Dracula is finally brought down (I don't think I'm ruining it for anyone) through such diverse means as hypnotism, detailed knowledge of train schedules, buying of drinks for information (tipping for tippling), and of course, garlic, the sacred communial wafer, golden crucifixes, and the stake through the heart. There are also plenty of wolves, bats, mists, spiders, superstitious (quite rightly so) Roumanians, and long moon-lit nights.

    Read this book. For more great book recommendations, visit ... Read more

    15. Life
    by Keith Richards
    list price: $29.99 -- our price: $16.18
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 031603438X
    Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
    Sales Rank: 4
    Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The long-awaited autobiography of the guitarist, songwriter, singer, and founding member of the Rolling Stones. Ladies and gentlemen: Keith Richards.

    With The Rolling Stones, Keith Richards created the songs that roused the world, and he lived the original rock and roll life.

    Now, at last, the man himself tells his story of life in the crossfire hurricane.Listening obsessively to Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters records, learning guitar and forming a band with Mick Jagger and Brian Jones.The Rolling Stones's first fame and the notorious drug busts that led to his enduring image as an outlaw folk hero. Creating immortal riffs like the ones in "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Honky Tonk Women."His relationship with Anita Pallenberg and the death of Brian Jones.Tax exile in France, wildfire tours of the U.S., isolation and addiction.Falling in love with Patti Hansen.Estrangement from Jagger and subsequent reconciliation.Marriage, family, solo albums and Xpensive Winos, and the road that goes on forever.

    With his trademark disarming honesty, Keith Richard brings us the story of a life we have all longed to know more of, unfettered, fearless, and true.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars You thought he'd remember nothing? Well, he remembers all of it. 'Life' is absolutely fascinating.
    Keith Richards. Right, he's the Rolling Stone you notice when Mick Jagger's not shaking and singing. The one who kicked his heroin addiction by having all his blood transfused in Switzerland. Who was --- for ten years in a row --- chosen by a music magazine as the rocker "most likely to die." Whose solution to spilling a bit of his father's ashes was to grab a straw and snort. Whose most recent revelation is about the size of Mick's equipment.

    Yeah, that's the guy. Wild man. Broken tooth, skull ring, earring, kohl eyes --- he's Cpt. Jack Sparrow's father, lurching though life as if it's a pirate movie, ready to unsheathe his knife for any reason, or none. Got some blow, some smack, a case of Jack Daniels? Having a party? Dial Keith.

    When you get a $7 million advance for your memoirs, there's no such thing as a "bad" image. But the thing about Keith Richards is, he wants to tell the truth. Like: he didn't have his blood transfused. Like: he didn't take heroin for pleasure or to nod out, but so he could tamp his energy down enough to work. Like: he and Jagger may not be friends but they're definitely brothers --- and if you criticize Mick to him, he'll slit your throat.

    Why does Keith want to undercut his legend?

    Because he has much better stories to tell.

    And in the 547-page memoir he wrote with James Fox, he serves them up like his guitar riffs -- in your face, nasty, confrontational, rich, smart, and, in the end, unforgettable.

    Start with the childhood. Keith grew up in a gray, down-and-out suburb of London. School: "I hated it. I'd spend the whole day wondering how to get home without taking a beating." By his teens, he'd figured the system out: "There's bigger bullies than just bullies. There's 'them,' the authorities." He adopts "a criminal mind." His school record reflects this: "'He has maintained a low standard' was the six-word summary of my 1959 school report, suggesting, correctly, that I had put some effort into the enterprise."

    His mother is his savior. She likes music, and is a "master twiddler" of the knobs on the radio. When he's 15, she spends ten quid she doesn't have to buy her only child a guitar. (No spoilers here, but much later in the book, you're going to fight tears when he plays a certain song for her.)

    The rest of the book? Keith Richards and a guitar --- and what a love story: "Music was a far bigger drug than smack. I could kick smack; I couldn't quit music. One note leads to another, and you never know what's going to come next, and you don't want to. It's like walking on a beautiful tightrope."

    What music interests him? Oh, come on: the music of the dispossessed --- black Chicago blues. Mick Jagger, who lives a few blocks away and is prosperous enough to actually buy a few records, also loves this music. To say they bond is to understate: "We both knew we were in a process of learning, and it was something you wanted to learn and it was ten times better than school."

    The Rolling Stones form. The casting is quite funny: "Bill Wyman arrived, or, more important, his Vox amplifier arrived and Bill came with it."

    Today bands dream of getting rich. Not the Stones: "We hated money." Their first aim was to be the best rhythm and blues band in London. Their second was to get a record contract. The way to do that was to play.

    Something happened when the Stones were on stage, something sexy and dangerous and never seen before. The Beatles held your hand. In 18 months, the Stones never finished a show. Keith estimates they played, on average, five to ten minutes before the screaming started, and then the fainting, until the security team was piling unconscious teenage girls on the stage like so much firewood.

    Fame. When it comes, there's no way out; you need it to do your work. The Stones at least brought a new look to it; they provoked the press, didn't care what the record company wanted. Only the music mattered. As Berry Gordy liked to say, "It's what's in the grooves that counts."

    "The world's greatest rock band" --- between 1966 and 1973, it's hard to argue that they weren't. Songs poured out of them: "I used to set up the riffs and the titles and the hook, and Mick would fill in. We didn't think much or analyze....Take it away, Mick. Your job now. I've given you the riff, baby."

    Drugs? Necessary. In the South, a black musician laid it out for Keith: "Smoke one of these, take one of these." Keith would move on beyond grass and Benzedrine to cocaine for the blast and focus, heroin for the two or three day work marathon. Engineers would give their all and fall asleep under the console, to be replaced by others. Keith would soldier on. "For many years," he says, "I slept, on average, twice a week."

    With money and success, though, there's suddenly time to think --- in Keith's case, about all the things about Mick that drove him nuts. His interest in Society. His egomania. His insecurity. And his promiscuity: "Mick never wanted me to talk to his women. They end up crying on my shoulder because they've found out that he has once again philandered. What am I gonna do? The tears that have been on this shoulder from Jerry Hall, from Bianca, from Marianne, Chrissie Shrimpton... They've ruined so many shirts of mine. And they ask me what to do! How should I know? I had Jerry Hall come to me one day with this note from some other chick that was written backwards --- really good code, Mick! --- "I'll be your mistress forever." All you had to do was hold it up to a mirror to read it... And I'm in the most unlikely role of counselor, "Uncle Keith." It's a side a lot of people don't connect with me."

    If only it could be so simple as a man and his guitar! But there are other people involved, in close association, with a lot at stake --- and here comes the business story, the drug story, the power story. It's funny and silly. And, after a while, sad. Mick breaks away from the Stones and makes a solo record: "It was like 'Mein Kampf.' Everybody had a copy but nobody listened to it." Mick gets grand. Keith's lost in drugs. From 1982 to 1989, the Stones don't tour; from 1985 to 1989, they don't go into the studio.

    And now they are rich. Beyond rich. Every time they tour or license a song, their wealth mounts -- Keith, by most estimates, is worth at least $250 million. It's ironic, really, for by any creative analysis, the Stones were over after "Exile on Main Street." And yet, here they are, almost four decades later, capable of producing the most lucrative tour of any year.

    Like so many things these days, music is about branding -- and there's no bigger brand than the Rolling Stones. Keith may slag his band mates; he'd never mock the Stones. Because the band is, if his version is accurate, really his triumph. Mick provided the flash, but in rock and roll, a great riff will always trump flash.

    A great riff will also trump time. We love rock for many reasons, and not the smallest is the way it makes us feel young, as if everything's possible and the road is clear ahead of us. And here is Keith Richards, who never grew up and is now so rich he'll never have to.

    His story slows as it approaches the present, and you start to wonder if this Peter Pan life can get to its end without real pain. And you think, well, there's another side to this -- if Mick started writing tonight, he could have his book out before he's 70. But mostly, you wish you could go back to the beginning of "Life" and start again.

    This memoir, written with the help of writer James Fox, is an intricately detailed account of Keith Richards life, both in and out of music-but mostly in. All the stories are here-the funny, the touching, the horrendous, and the amazing. Some are well known, some weren't even known to Richards-he only hears later, from others who were with him, what went on. And he's put it all in this book. Included are 32 pages of b&w and color photographs (including one of the band, with Jagger driving, in a vintage red convertible, across the Brooklyn Bridge) in two groups, plus photos throughout the book itself chronicling Richards' life. Also of interest is an early diary that Richards kept detailing the bands early gigs and impressions of the music the band played.

    Richards has been known as many things-"the human riff", as some kind of prince of a dark underworld filled with drugs, booze, and skull rings, as "Keef", a rock 'n' roll pirate, as someone who should be dead (several times over) from massive drug use and other lifestyle choices, and as someone hounded by law enforcement-looking to incarcerate this bad example to all the kids. But Richards is also known as a settled (for him) family man. But somehow he's survived it all. And now, with this autobiography, he's letting us into his life. This book looks back at all the times-good, bad, and just plain strange.

    Beginning with Richards' boyhood in post-war England, no stone is left unturned in detailing his young life. A life which changed forever with his discovery of American blues. From that era the book details the formation of THE ROLLING STONES (I would like to have learned more about Brian Jones' in relation to the formation of the group), which changed his life again-a life he continues to the present.

    This book is important, interesting, and at times, harrowing, with a myriad of details surrounding Richards, his band, and anyone caught up in their universe of music, good times, misery, drugs, violence, and just plain weirdness. But the book also shows another side of Keith Richards. The pain he felt (and still feels) when his young son Tara, died while Richards was on tour. The loss of musician and friend/band hanger-on, Gram Parsons. Looking back with regret as people close to him sunk into a hellish pit of drug addiction. And Richards' own account of his years of drug use-especially heroin and the misery he brought on himself, even while he was careful not to go to far over the edge.

    Of course no memoir concerning Richards would be complete without accounts of the ups and downs, over many years, with Mick Jagger. There's a number of fascinating asides and insights concerning their ideas of what direction the band should follow. Unfortunately, but not surprising, Jagger (and the other band members) are not heard from. That's unfortunate because of all the valuable insight concerning Richards' life on and off the stage, and the inner workings of one of the world's greatest rock 'n' roll bands, that his long time band mates could bring to the story. But others who have known Richards over the course of many years were interviewed. People like Ronnie Spector, Jim Dickinson, Andrew Oldham, Bobby Keys, and a number of fellow musicians and friends, all have telling bits and pieces to add to the overall picture of just who Richards is.

    The detail Richards and Fox have put into this well written memoir is almost staggering. Reading about the early days of the band is exciting and fascinating, if for no other reason the era they came up in is long since vanished. The discovery and idolization of musicians like Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jimmy Reed, Slim Harpo, and other blues greats, trying to emulate the hard scrabble lifestyles of American blues artists, the small scruffy clubs the band played in the beginning, living in abject poverty and squalor, the large concerts in later years, the songs, the albums, the drugs, and the many fascinating (and sometimes disgusting) characters that drift in and out of Richards' life-it's all here. And taken together, this is a story only Keith Richards could live (and survive) to write about in such detail.

    While there have been other decent books on Richards and/or the Stones, for the straight, unvarnished truth, as he sees it and lived it, this is the book that matters. This memoir, written in a Richards-to-you conversational style, is interesting, exciting, gritty, informative, harrowing, and important. And with this book, written in his own words, we can't get much closer to the man and his life than that.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Truly Phenomenal - Similar in Quality and Candor to the Beatles Anthology
    The other reviewers have already done an excellent job of summarizing the topics he speaks of in the book, so I won't pile on that. I just wanted to emphasize the quality and openness and candor of this memoir.

    Many mocked his quote in the beginning that he truly remembers all of it, but it's abundantly clear that not only does he remember, but he's willing and eager to share it.

    Sure, the $7mm advance helps, but we've all read much-hyped bios that turned out to be self-congratulatory, unimpressive paper weights.

    This is not that. You will learn more about Keith than the most die hard fans do, and learn that he's far more than the caricature of a drug-abusing burned out rock star that the media often paints him out to be.

    I'm blown away.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Don't try this life at home - but it's sure fun to read about
    What a fun biography! What a life!

    Keith Richards is definitely my favorite heroin addict, ever.

    Random observations:

    --He refreshingly avoids recovery-speak in discussing his legendary drug abuse. Consequently this may be one of the best firsthand accounts of it ever written - clear, plain, detailed. I'd rather read this than Aldous Huxley or The Beats. While not encouraging anyone else to try it, he doesn't apologize or lather on phony regrets . He enjoyed it while he did it. A lot of it was just business for touring musicians- something to get you up for the next show on your grueling schedule, and something to mellow off the first drug's hard edges. He figures he stayed alive because he used pure products (often obtained, albeit illegally, from legal prescriptions ), and was meticulous about not overdoing it. There's a jolly scene where he describes himself cutting Turkish heroin exactly 97 to 3. Not 96 to 4.

    -- He's down to earth. More genuine, perhaps, than Jagger, whom he faults for accepting a knighthood after playing the rebel his entire life. (A class thing perhaps - Jagger the middle-class, good-student striver ultimately wanting acceptance by the elites; Richards the son of a factory worker, knowing that's not his bag and not really wanting it.) He'd rather hang with musicians, particularly good ones, than the jet set and Eurotrash.

    --He never turns to Buddhism, rants about politics or devotes himself to saving the planet. For this alone I'd lionize him.

    -- Richards prefers the band to the solo; for him the big moment is when the sound blends and you can't tell who's playing what. He likes hanging with his best buds, most of whom have been in jail. He's comfortable with black people in contexts most whites never reach - Rastafarians in remote villages where most white people would get shot, all-night parties with black musicians on the other side of the tracks after shows in the still-segregated South.

    --He really has led a charmed life, wriggling out of numerous busts where they had him cold - in Canada, Honolulu, Arkansas, and England. He's also survived auto wrecks and fires, physical mayhem and rioting English teenage girls, whom he regarded as scarier than the cops who staked him out for years trying to catch him with drugs.

    --Oh my God: all the women. Sigh. It's good to be king.

    Now for the pontificating. This is one of the most important books in rock history in recent years. Popular culture knows a hell of a lot about the Beatles but far less about the Stones. What folks know about them, they tend to know about Jagger instead of Richards. And what they know about Richards is disproportionately his indestructibility in the face of unbelievable drug abuse.

    Which is a pity. Let's not forget that the Rolling Stones were there at the conception, just like the Beatles. Teenyboppers rioted for them, just like for the Beatles. In 1964, two British polls showed them more popular than the Fab Four. Their rise was seen as heralding the Apocalypse, probably more so than the Beatles. Stones mania in England caught up with the Beatles by 1964 or 1965. The two bands would coordinate their singles' releases so as not to step on each other's hits. By the age of peak cultural and political rebellion, the Beatles were already breaking up while the Stones were just hitting their stride.

    While Lennon and McCartney were the latest pop-standard immortals, the Stones saw themselves as bluesmen. They singlehandedly brought the legacy of the Chicago blues to an enormous worldwide audience, reviving many blues careers. Their merging of early rock and roll and Chicago blues created what you today think of as rock - that big pounding sound filling stadiums. No one has ever surpassed them in its execution. Richards refers to them without braggadocio as the world's greatest rock and roll band, and that's true.

    So much of that can be attributed to Richards, their guitarist for half a century. He was never a glossy pop celebrity. He had bad teeth. He never came across as a virtuoso a la Clapton or Hendrix. But he and Charlie Watts were - I'm stealing a phrase from the book here - the band's engine house, while Jagger sang and danced out front, the band's public face.

    Richards was mesmerized during youth by the blues, but unlike a lot of older blues purists, he also loved rock and roll. The band's early insistence on playing it raised hackles among their base of blues fans; Richards parallels this to folkie disapproval of rock and roll. Richards, Jagger and Brian Jones spent two or three years in poverty singlemindedly pursuing the blues. They dissected every record they could find to replicate its sounds. And they really got it. Early American audiences hearing them on the radio couldn't tell if they were white or black. Richards' life changed when he first heard Elvis singing "Heartbreak Hotel" on a crackling Radio Luxemburg broadcast, but it was Elvis's guitarist Scotty Moore he really idolized.

    He describes how music is made, how he and Jagger wrote songs, how a sound was achieved, recording tricks. His discovery of five-string tuning - removing a guitar's lowest string and tuning the others like a banjo - changed the Stones' sound.

    The personal data intrigues, and not just the inside dope on his relationships with Ronnie Spector, Anita Pallenberg, Patti Hansen, Uschi Obermaier and others. Readers may be surprised to learn Richards was a devoted Boy Scout patrol leader and thinks it shaped him into someone who could run a band. Or that he was in a prize-winning boys choir. Or that he was nervous approaching women. Or that in later life he's become a devoted reader, preferring history (World War II, the Romans) Patrick O'Brian's "Master and Commander" series, and George MacDonald Fraser's "Flashman" books. (I salute his excellent taste.)

    The way to view his life is this: it's not a recommendation to everyone else to screw countless women, including gorgeous models, beautiful revolutionaries, black strippers, groupies and bankers' wives. It's not a recommendation to lead a jangled lifestyle for decades abusing every drug available while putting in recording studio sessions measured in days, not hours, without sleep.

    Richards is, more or less, a god in the Greek sense, and we marvel at him because he does things that most of us can't or don't really want to. He's unkillable. He's mega-talented, fabulously rich and famous. He has lived a charmed existence by his own rules. But this life killed or destroyed many around him weaker, less lucky or talented than he. Brian Jones was gone by 1969. Richards is the exception that proves these rules. That's the role of gods and kings.

    Don't try this at home. But it's sure fun to read about.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Life Rocks
    In the early eighties I used to see Keith Richards in various altered states in a hotel on the upper east side of New York City. What amused me then, and still does, is that in the morning the doormen in their crisp red uniforms would be taking his dogs for a walk in Central Park. Mr. Richards, himself, looked as though he might have recently been sleeping under a bridge. At the time, it never crossed my mind that this guy was even literate, much less erudite and, as evidenced by this memoir, insightful. Mr. Richards has written the rock 'n roll story from a musician's perspective and, if he takes a shot, he aims it for the ones who can take it, including himself.

    As he describes taking his seven year old son, Marlon, on the road for a Stones tour while he himself is a strung out mess, he doesn't sugar coat it and, not surprisingly, the years of drug addictiion, the arrests, and the close calls are all part of this story. Some stories are heartbreaking, others hilarious and he gives good anecdote. However, it is Mr. Richards dedication to the music and his fellow musicians that make this doozy of a book soar. Keith Richards, superstar, is still as excited about making music, playing music and learning about music as he was fifty years ago, which is why we're all still listening and what makes this book such a great read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Love the way Richards mixes his own take with contributions from those closest to him
    While Keith's claim that he remembers it ALL may be stretching things a bit, the fact is that he remembers an amazingly diverse amount of information. A special feature of the book? The memories of Tom Waits, Patti Hansen (Keith's wife) and others who have known him through the years. Their insights help give perspective to the book.

    Along with plenty of details about the various rifts between Richards and (Mick) Jagger, there are odd little bit of info as well as quirky and fun additions- a recipe for sausages and mashed potatoes, lists of books, and authors that Richard likes. He is a voracious reader and has a massive library.

    In this autobiography, Richards clearly picks what he feels is worth including, leading to some baffling omissions. Chuck Berry is clearly revered by Richards and mentioned regularly, along with plenty of others who have remained his friends or influenced him musically.He also includes recollections of women who have been involved with him (and/or with Mick Jagger) - but Richards also writes very little about Jerry Hall, a woman who had a long-term relationship with Jagger. It is as though she barely existed although I've seen clips of The Rolling Stones in various documentaries and she was clearly on the scene. On the other hand, Marianne Faithful and Patti Hansen get plenty of page time.

    For those who want the scoop on police altercations and drug busts, admissions of massive drug use, info about Keith's use of heroin and how he quit using this very addictive drug, the truth about his relatively recent accident and brain is all here. Tour info, song inspirations, plenty of musical trivia...also included. At over 500 pages, this may seem lengthy to some readers but I found it well worth the time. After all, just think of the incredibly long career of The Rolling Stones! It is hard to imagine a short volume which includes information about Keith's involvement with the group as well as his private life.

    While I'd recommend reading this in chronological order, each chapter contains a brief summary of events covered in that chapter, allowing readers to pick and choose among chapters, if desired. ... Read more

    16. Invisible (Ivy Malone Mystery Series #1)
    by Lorena McCourtney
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $12.99
    Asin: B002B3YBZO
    Publisher: Fleming H. Revell
    Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    She's not your average crime fighter!Ivy Malone has a curiosity that sometimes gets her into trouble, and it's only aggravated by her discovery that she can easily escape the public eye. So when vandals romp through the local cemetery, she takes advantage of her newfound anonymity and its unforeseen advantages as she launches her own unofficial investigation.Despite her oddball humor and unconventional snooping, Ivy soon becomes discouraged by her failure to turn up any solid clues. And after Ivy witnesses something ominous and unexplained, she can't resist putting her investigative powers to work again. Even the authorities' attempts to keep Ivy out of danger and her nosy neighbor's match-making schemes can't slow her down. But will the determination that fuels this persistent, quirky sleuth threaten her very safety?"I laughed out loud. McCourtney's charming mystery debuts a voice both enchanting and startling."-Colleen Coble, author of Without a Trace"McCourtney's skill at blending whimsy, quirks, and questions into a lead character makes Invisible a must read."-Lois Richer, author of Dangerous Sanctuary"Invisible is a treat! Ivy Malone is a heroine with spunk and determination!"-Carol Cox, author of A Stitch in Time ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars A light mystery book with a heaping helping of religious sauce
    "I'll just read the first few pages."

    Or so I thought as I began Chapter One of INVISIBLE at 11:30 PM on a Tuesday night. But I hadn't figured the heroine-spunky Ivy Malone-or her humor-laced story, into my plans.

    Four hours later, I was reading the last lines of the book through gritty, but determined eyes, wishing very much that I could claim Ivy Malone as my grandmother, or at least my next-door neighbor.

    To say this book is delightful is hardly sufficient. Written from a first person point of view, which is a different voice from McCourtney's past offerings, INVISIBLE is an absolute triumph. Wit and wisdom, pathos and perseverance, and downright eccentricity flow from Ivy's first vision of Nixon in her tomato patch, to her race with flying bullets, really bad bad guys, and the Hound of the Baskervilles in a grungy auto wrecking yard.

    And while the tone of the story is humorous from start to finish, a number of deep questions are also addressed. Questions about the goodness and reality of God in the face of death, loss, and injury. Questions about what's right and what's wrong when justice must be served. Questions about where and how to belong in a world that seems to have forgotten you, or perhaps never noticed you in the first place.

    In Ivy Malone, readers will find a combination of wacky humor, endearing stubbornness, and unconventional sincerity. In Ivy's story, readers will slink through torn up gravesites, take a dive inside a murdered woman's closet, and watch the stars with a cute guy named Mac. And that's just the beginning!

    INVISIBLE is a wild and highly entertaining ride from the first chapter to the last word.

    I can't wait for the release of the sequel, IN PLAIN SIGHT, where I'm sure Ivy, and her big white Thunderbird, will cruise into more mayhem, mischief, and maybe even some good old fashioned romance.

    Ivy, you go girl:)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A romping good mystery.
    Ivy Malone, a spunky, grey-haired widow, realizes the world is passing her by, leaving her unnoticed and invisible. She, however, has no intention of silently growing old and passing away.

    Deciding to put this newfound inconspicuousness to good use, she determines to snare some local vandals, who have been violating the cemetery. Little does she know that there are more forces at work than mere vandalism. Throw in the murder of a neighbor and soon danger is knocking at Ivy's door as well. Will Ivy's snooping land her in trouble too deep for her to handle? Or will the resourceful Ivy Malone be clever and "invisible" enough to not only save herself, but apprehend the bad guys, as well?

    There's nothing invisible about McCourtney's irresistible humor, clever story-crafting, or delightful characters. After having read Invisible, one can't help but hope that this new series will be a long one. A romping good mystery.

    Craig Hart - Magazine

    5-0 out of 5 stars McCourtney is a skillful writer
    Lorena McCourtney is a writer of romance and mysteries. Hailing from the State of Oregon, she and her husband love the outdoors. She graduated with a degree in agriculture from Washington State University. She is a woman of faith and has dedicated her later books to Christian values.

    Ivy Malone has just lost her best friend, Thea. Thea rented part of her home to a beautiful and circumspect woman who went by the name of Kendra Alexander. Just as Ivy is feeling like a LOL (Little Old Lady) who is invisible to most people, circumstances conspire to change her life. A country cemetery is vandalized, and when the short-handed police haven't the resources to investigate, Ivy engages in nocturnal sleuthing. But then Kendra's apparent disappearance sharpens her naturally inquisitive mind, and when Kendra's murdered corpse is discovered in a nearby river, Ivy goes into action:

    "Well, I was here to investigate. The circumstances did not appear to be ideal, but I figured I may as well start investigating. I pulled my photo of the person

    I knew as Kendra out of my purse. 'Do you know this young woman?'

    'The woman shook her head. 'Who is she?'

    'Possibly a friend of Kendra's.' I brought out the photocopy of the young man's photo. 'What about him?'

    Another shake of the head. 'What's this all about?'"

    For a woman who is on Social Security, Ivy Malone has guts. She also has a wry sense of humor, attracts fellow senior males easily, and isn't afraid to launch herself into dangerous, and at times, hilarious situations. She is constantly mindful of her faith, which could interfere with the story but doesn't. She is an inspiration to those around her, and it could be a sign of the times that even older women refuse to be shunted aside.

    INVISIBLE is an entertaining mystery which is a whodunit, as well as a "who does this corpse belong to?" McCourtney is a skillful writer with definite ideas and an inventive mind. It is no surprise that she is a popular author. INVISIBLE is lots of fun!

    Shelley Glodowski
    Senior Reviewer

    5-0 out of 5 stars Alot better than I thought it would be...
    As a senior citizen most of the time society pays you little attention; to most elderly people this is peaceful, but to some like Ivy Malone, it is a great advantage to get want she wants. In Ms. Malone's case, it's useful for going unnoticed (hence the title "Invisible") during any of her investigations. So when a local cemetery where her aunt and uncle are buried is found vandalized, she plans to avenge her relatives and decides to spring into action.
    Thea, the next door neighbor and best friend of Ivy Malone has just died. Before she went she rented part of her home to a young lady by the name of Kendra Alexander. During this time Ivy feels as though everyone in the world is passing by her, or as if she really has no importance in life. However, as soon as she learns of the police deciding not to investigate a local cemetery being vandalized she feels a great breath of inspiration and starts taking action by herself. Soon the investigation seems to get more and more dangerous for Ivy Malone, as shortly after deciding to take the case young Kendra Alexander is reported missing and eventually found murdered in a nearby river. Using her "invisible" status, Ivy Malone does some great sleuthing until she eventually finds the vandals and they are apprehended by the police.
    There are many things that make Invisible good book. One of them is the fact that although it's a mystery, it uses a humorous tone all throughout. So not only are you pulled in by the captivating tale of the mystery, but also by the comedy that will keep you even more entertained. In addition to those reasons, the book also discusses deep topics on things such as religion and about where you belong in society. I would recommend Invisible to anyone willing to have a good read.

    Lorena McCourtney does a good job of implementing comedy into her mystery. This comedy keeps the reader entertained while also making the reader anxious to continue to get a good laugh. Some examples of this humor are when she finds the Hound of the Baskervilles in a junk yard, when she envisions Nixon in a tomato patch, and when she has a race with flying bullets. The humorous tone of the book made me really enjoy it.
    Ironically, a humorous tone is not the only thing included in Invisible, but also deep topics that make you think. For example, one deep topic is when Ivy Malone feels as though she is no longer important to society because she is an elderly lady. Is that necessarily true or not? Another is during the book, Ivy Malone still continues to praise God although all these bad things start happening in her life. Some people always speculate if there is a god then why do bad things happen to good people, and this shows another case of that. This attribute of the book makes it more versatile and attracts an even wider audience than the usual mystery and comedy fans.
    The main reason I liked this book is because of the story of the mystery itself. I thought it was pretty cool how the author used Ivy Malone's old age as a way to go unnoticed through her investigations. I also liked how the motivation for the protagonist is set up, by having her uncle's and aunt's tombstones vandalized and her feeling inspired and vengeful.

    Invisible uses a good mix of humor, mystery, and description that keeps the reader interested. In addition, it discusses deep topics that include religious beliefs and the difference between right and wrong. Overall, Lorena McCourtney's book is a well rounded mystery, while also incorporating in other genres such as comedy and religious writing to make it even more interesting and better.

    (...) ... Read more

    17. Treasure Island
    by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JML7EC
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Yo ho ho, and a bottle of rum!
    Treasure Island is perhaps THE classic pirate's tale. Robert Louis Stevenson, the author, created a rich story of adventure and treachery on the high seas all seen through the eyes of a boy named Jim Hawkins. Jim starts off as the son of tavern owners in a humble little port village. When an old seaman stays at the tavern, trouble soon follows him in the form of a pirate crew seeking revenge. I will not give away any more specific plot points, but events move forward to a great treasure hunt, treachery, and a surprisingly engaging story for adults as well as children.

    Jim Hawkins is the hero of the story and he's a good lad with a stout heart. Long John Silver is the real star, however, and his character is a fascinating character study in moral ambiguity... or perhaps a study in amoral perfection. The pirate language is good and thick but this edition has plenty of notes to help you decipher some of the references that have become too obscure for today's readers. The plot moves along very briskly with no wasted scenes.

    In short, Treasure Island well deserves its status as a beloved classic. It's a story of suspense and adventure that can be enjoyed at a child's level, but has substance for adults as well. I would recommend without reserve it to virtually anyone.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Yow!!!
    How can you even review the ultimate pirate book of all time? I read it when I was 9 and loved it. I read it again when I was 34 and loved it again! (Actually, I read it several times between, as well.) Long John Silver is arguably one of the most Macchiavellian characters you will ever find between the covers of a book. (I'm mainly reviewing it to raise the average rating. Anyone who thinks this book is boring has to have a screw loose!) From the arrival of the mysterious Billy Bones, to the attack on the inn, to the sea voyage, to the mutiny, to the battle for the island, to the treasure hunt, even to the final fate of John Silver, this book is a stunning rollercoaster of suspense and adventure! I'd give it ten stars if I could.

    Here's a bit of information you other readers might enjoy: the meaning of the pirates' song--

    Fifteen men on a dead man's chest Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

    The real-life pirate, Edward Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate) once marooned 15 of his men on a small island named Dead Man's Chest. He put them ashore with no weapons, equipment or supplies--just a bottle of rum.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure! Mutiny! Pirates! Treasure!
    All four things mentioned above can be found at your fingertips with Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island." Before Johnny Depp stumbled off of the Black Pearl, before Errol Flynn took us on swashbuckling journeys, and even before "Lucky" Jack Aubrey took to the water, Long John Silver and Jim Hawkins thrilled fans of high-seas adventure. "Treasure Island" tells the story of one young Jim Hawkins. It starts off in the simple setting of a family-owned inn where we are introduced to Billy Bones, an old seadog who has a secret. After a couple of visits from some strange characters, a confrontation occurs and a treasure map lands into the hands of Hawkins. From there, we set sail on the Hispaniola with Hawkins, the squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, the sea cook Silver, and a whole slew of pirates and scoundrels in general. All are after the treasure of Captain Flint, who graciously marked his treasure map with an "X" to show the way to the riches.

    This is a wonderful tale of intrigue, double-crossing, greed, and swordplay. Promoted as a children's book, I'm sure that any adult will find this story captivating as well. Robert Louis Stevenson is a literary legend and deserves that honor based on this book alone. However, if you read this book and are interested to read more of Stevenson's work, check out "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," "Kidnapped," and "The Black Arrow." He also wrote a number of traveling books which are also fun to read.

    Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Tops the Stiffest Yarn to Nothing!
    I had already tried reading my copy of this book when I was far younger, but I was not as avid a reader as I am these days. Recently, parted from my copy, I picked up an old nondescript hardcover of Treasure Island at the library to complete the book in its entirety.

    I found the first half of the book highly enjoyable, one that I recalled warmly as I re-read it. But as the book progressed, I was astounded at how difficult the reading was becoming; the pirate slang and their use of strange metaphors obviously grew proportionate to the amount of pirates in the scene. In one of the few moments of humor, the hero Hawkins even says, "`Well,' I said, `I don't understand one word that you've been saying. But that's neither here nor there[...].'" The dialects makes the book that much more realistic; in my mind, however, I wonder if children reading this book fully comprehend it, or were they simply smarter in the 19th century? After spoiling myself with easy modern thrillers, I had to hunker down and really concentrate my efforts in trying to understand the subtext. The rough slang slowed my reading down greatly, but increased my enjoyment. And, of course, having finally completed the book and knowing the true story, my re-read in a few years will be thrice as good!

    In 1881, while vacationing in Scotland, Stevenson painted an island with his stepson which became the inspiration for the novel. He soon wrote 15 chapters, and completed the rest in Switzerland at the rate of one chapter a day. It was finally published as an entire novel in 1883.

    Stevenson throws together goods that have become legendary in pirate lore: Pirates with fantastic names, like Captain Flint, Billy Bones, Black Dog, Pew, Israel Hands (based on the real-life member of Blackbeard's crew), and the now-infamous Long John Silver, himself with a parrot on his shoulder; a single treasure map that has three red crosses (designating two piles of treasure, one pile of arms); a beautiful schooner that's put through its paces; a 23 member crew (excluding Jim Hawkins, Doctor Livesey, and Squire Trelawney), most of whom become gentlemen of fortune; mutiny; double-crosses; the shanty "15 men on a Dead Man's chest/Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum"; the notorious Jolly Roger; spirits, superstition, and lore; and even a skeleton or two.

    Treasure Island actually refers to the fictitious Skeleton Island---perhaps an inspiration for the children's book The Secret of Skeleton Island (1966)---, a sweltering jungle in the day and eerily submerged in mists in the early mornings. A strange coincidence I found led me to some interesting finds. Stevenson named an anchorage point after the pirate Captain Kidd. In 1935, Harold T. Wilkins published a book entitled "New Facts about Mysterious Captain Kidd and his Skeleton Island Chests," in which can be found one of Kidd's treasure maps. Two years after Wilkins's book was published a treasure hunter found an uncanny resemblance between this "Skeleton Island" and Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. Oak Island's impervious Water Pit is purportedly where Captain Kidd buried part of his treasure before being hanged in 1701 (the Pit is also the main inspiration for the 1998 novel Riptide). In a twist worthy of Robinson himself, despite Kidd's map uncovering some of Oak Island's mysteries, Wilkins eventually stepped forward to admit his maps were fabricated. But was Stevenson alluding to Kidd's connection with Oak Island?

    Treasure Island is an adventurous classic I heartily recommend anyone to read. I personally advocate reading the book if you're older, or re-reading it, to fully enjoy the environment created through the striking language. A fantastic aid in understanding pirate slang is the online Encyclopaedia Piratica. While you're at it, go to any map engine and plug in the latitude and longitude found at the end of Chapter 6, "The Captain's Papers," to see where Billy Bones claimed booty!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
    I am dumbfounded by the reviews that my peers have given Treasure Island. This book is a masterpiece of children's literature. It has everything one could hope for: action, intrigue, pirates, buried treasure... What more does it need? I, too, read the novel for my class, but it did not put me to sleep at all. Instead I couldn't put it down and had to read by flashlight after my Mom made me turn out my lights. It was incredible. Long John Silver is a creepy guy! As for the other reviewers who are my age, I hope you adults do not judge my generation by their ignorance and unwillingness to accept anything without man eating dinosurs. Treasure Island is an excellent novel.

    5-0 out of 5 stars One of the best novels ever written.
    Simply put, this is an excellent book! I didn't read it until I was 37, but it was worth the wait. I certainly would not classify this as a children's book at all. In fact, I strongly suspect that the few negetive reviews this book has received here have been due to children being forced to read it in school. My view is if you force a child to read anything, he's going to hate it. The fact that the book was written over a hundred years ago, when people talked very differently than they do today, and novels were written very differently also, spells disaster for anyone expecting a child to understand it, let alone like it. That aside, this is still a wonderful book full of adventure with descriptions that are vivid only if you have a vast vocabulary. If you can get through the first chapter, it gets easier and it's definately worth the time and effort to read. I loved it and plan to read it again very soon. Do yourself a favor and ignore any negetive comments you've seen about this great book. Read it and then judge for yourself.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Adventure, excitement, and suspense all rolled into one!
    Brimming with danger, suspense, excitement, and adventure, Treasure Island relates the story (in first-person) of Jim Hawkins as he journeys with his good friends, the doctor and squire, in search of buried treasure. He overhears the crew's plans of mutiny, headed by the polite, one-legged "gentleman," Long John Silver, and is plunged into a world of treachery. The characterization is beautiful: the doctor, shrewd and kind; the squire, fiery and outspoken; Jim Hawkins, quick and intelligent; the crew, sly and devious; and Long John Silver, so unsuspectingly polite, so wickedly sly... A must-read! (BTW, I am 13-years-old.)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Arrrr....a fine book, me hearties
    RL Stevenson was born in 1850, and died in 1894. "Treasure Island" was first published in 1883, though was originally written for the amusement of Stevenson's stepson, Lloyd Osbourne.

    Set in the 1700s, the book's hero is Jim Hawkins. Jim is, apparently, an only child whose parents run the Admiral Benbow - a quiet inn, though with a good reputation, not far from Bristol. His troubles begin with the arrival of a mysterious sailor - a rather intimidating, poorly dressed and generally filthy character, though not one who was short of money. He's reluctant to give his name, though claims to hold the rank of captain, and he generally says little. However, occasionally his tongue is loosened a little by his fondness for rum - upon which he would either burst into song or tell the most terrifying stories. At the mysterious sailor's request, meanwhile, Jim keeps an eye out for another salty old sea dog the nameless captain seems keen to avoid : the unwanted visitor's most notable feature is his one leg.

    Things change with the arrival of an even nastier sailor named Black Dog. He's obviously acquainted with the Admiral Benbow's resident sailor - whose name, Billy Bones, is soon revealed - though they're not on the best of terms. Things turn nasty, one thing leads to another and before you can say "oh, arrr", Billy has died of a stroke. Jim and his mother quickly rifle Billy's sea chest - he'd left a substantial bar bill, and Mrs Hawkins meant to collect payment - though among his possessions they also find a mysterious sealed packet. When eventually opened, the packet proves to hold treasure map of a notorious pirate called Captain Flint. Shortly afterwards, Jim joins Squire Trelawney and Dr Livesey on a mission to retrieve the treasure. Unfortunately, their ship proves to be manned by a crew of treacherous pirates - including the one-legged Long John Silver...

    A very easily read, fast-moving and enjoyable book - and one that (presumably) has had a huge impact on how we still see pirates : lots of songs about rum (naturally with a few yo-ho-hos thrown in), treasure maps where X marks the spot and one-legged salty old sea dogs with parrots that scream "pieces of eight". Highly recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Accept No Substitutes!
    Giving Treasure Island five stars is like declaring Helen of Troy homecoming queen. It's too little,too late. This is the classic tale of pirates. Its' themes have been worked and worked again,but it remains untouched. Stevenson is a master storyteller at the top of his form. From beginning to end the plot never lags,and the characters possess a richness and depth rare in an adventure story. Every reader of English ought to make their acquaintance--Jim Hawkins,Billy Bones,Old Pew,Silver,and the rest--at some time in his life,preferably when he is young,and his heart still believes it can find that treasure. Treasure Island has been francised,moppetized,filmed,and abridged,but never bettered. Accept no substitues! Read the entire book. There is plenty here for children and adults. Like all great literature,it works on more than one level. Dominating the whole Story is the figure of Long John Silver. As his name implies he has a lunar quality. He is attractive,facinating,powerful,but with a dark side. Again,he is murdering,lying,and infinitly self-seeking,yet like Jim we cannot help liking him and wanting him to like us. At this level Treasure Island is a study in criminality that asks: Why is it that the best,the most full of natural power, often turn their gifts to evil? And why do we find evil so attractive? A word about editions. There are many,but by far the best is the hardcover featuring the illustrations of N.C. Wyeth. No one has succeeded as he has in capturing the spirit of the tale. If you are looking for a cheaper paperback edition that won't blind you with cramped layout, or ruin the whole experience with goofy illustratons,choose the Puffin Classic. It's unabridged,sturdy,and features a beautiful cover illustration. ... Read more

    18. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    by Benjamin Franklin
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMLMXI
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. Uniform title: Autobiography ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars The Original American Dream
    It's a little presumptuous to write a "review" of a book as historically important as this, so I'll just give a few reasons why you should read it.

    It's well-written and engaging, even 200+ (nearing 300+; Franklin was born in 1706) years later. It stops in 1760, well before his involvement with the Revolution, but it covers in detail his youth, apprenticeships, the formation of his philosophy and ideals, and his path from poor roots to business and social success -- the first telling of the American Dream, the idea that a poor young man could Find His Fortune in the New World through enterprise, wisdom, and work.

    There is a high degree of self-hagiography here, and it would be amusing to tally up (for example) how many times Franklin praises himself vs. how many times he advises on the virtue of humility. He smooths over issues like his illegitimate son, he doesn't mention his membership in the Freemasons, etc. The construction is also a bit rambling ("Then I did this thing. Next, I did another thing. Then I did a third thing"), but Franklin simply did so many interesting things -- even in this short slice of his life -- that the book is interesting despite that. There's a great deal of discussion on his scientific and inventive accomplishments, and he talks at length about his development of his own personal moral code and how he achieved business success (along with Franklin's Personal Method You Can Use for Self-Improvement -- in some ways, this is the first self-help book!)

    All in all, this is very much worth reading, and gives a compelling picture of Franklin's life and times. I particularly liked the picture Franklin draws of contemporary American society -- free, open, and small, with most people in most towns all knowing each other, and business opportunities are wide open for anyone with industry and pluck. I'm not sure how similar modern-day America still is to Franklin's Philadelphia, but it's certain that Franklin -- and this book -- helped set the image that we still *want* to believe America conforms to. And for that alone, it's worth reading.

    If you like this book, you might also be interested in reading Alexis de Tocqueville's _Democracy in America_, for another view of colonial-era America, or any of Mark Twain's nonfiction (_Life on the Mississippi_, _Roughing It_, etc.), for similar accounts of America's growth and development a hundred-odd years further on. Any of those should be available as a free Kindle download.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enlightening and Written in the Style of the Times
    This "Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin" does not contain the type of finished material one has come to expect in a finished coherent autobiographical writing covering the whole life span of the individual written by single author over a continuous period of time. This is really source material partially written over distinctly separate periods of time wherein the author, Benjamin Franklin, wrote on two different continents without access to the other parts of his text. With that said, I still think that this book is a wonderful and enlightening piece of work. It should, in my opinion, be considered for placement in every high school and college library, and it should perhaps be wise to consider it for required reading in those institutions. The book tells of the life and times in which Mr. Franklin lived, the attitudes of the colonists and of the British and the ways that things were accomplished in colonial America. It is truly amazing to me to hear first hand how a single individual with only two years of formal education can educate himself as this man did and to rise to make such truly great contributions to society, science, engineering, and politics. I highly recommend this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Kindle
    While reading "An Incomplete Education" I read that this was the greatest autobiography ever written. Out of curiosity I purchased it and read it and the recommendation was right on. This book was very intriguing and captivating.

    The only disappointing part was that the American Revolution and Benjamin Franklin's part was not detailed.

    Benjamin Franklin's list of virtues and his application to his life were amazing. Oh that young men today would seek to be so virtuous!

    Great read.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Unfinished Autobiography of the Consumate American Life
    Franklin wrote this autobiography as a letter of instruction in the ways of the world to his youthful and illegitimate son of 40. It only covers the first half or so of his incredible life, so the things that really made him well-known are not covered, but there is plenty here anyway.

    Franklin recounts his family's modest life in England and the circumstances that brought them to Boston. He was among the youngest of a very large family, ultimately finding his way to Philadelphia to find work as a printer when an apprenticeship with an older brother turned sour.

    We always think of Franklin as being a slightly older statesman among the Founding Fathers, when in fact he was a full generation older than Washington or Jefferson. Unlike popular perception, he was an athletic and vibrant youth, who rescued a drowning Dutch companion and taught swimming to children of London's elite.

    Philadelphia in the 1720's and 1730's was a small town, never sure if it would really take off as a settlement. Franklin quickly befriended key politicians who felt Philadelphia had grown sufficiently to have a world-class print shop. He played a key role in the town's development, leading civic groups in establishing libraries, fire companies, meeting halls, and street cleaning services. Of course, he was also the consummate politician, serving in office, and networking his way to his first fortune by publishing government documents and printing the first paper currency. He also had a knack for working with the several important religious sects of that time and place, especially the pacifist Quakers, even though Franklin was a deist.

    Franklin was a clever businessman. In today's lexicon, he effectively franchised across the colonies his concept of the publisher/printer who would provide both the content and the ink on paper. By age 30, he had set up his business affairs so that his printing businesses in several colonies were operated by partners and he received a share of the profits, allowing him to pursue other interests.

    The autobiography is unfinished, so we don't hear his account of his pursuits of electricity, which made him as famous and well-known as Bill Gates is today, nor his thought on the Revolution. Franklin did play a key role in establishing logistical support to the British during their fight with the French in the New World. At that time and during his years in Europe, he was generally perceived as a Tory supporter.

    Read this book to learn how Franklin devoted himself to self-improvement by establishing clubs, lending libraries, a sober lifestyle allowing time for study, and his methods for measuring his personal performance against metrics he had established for a proper lifestyle. One will also gather a new appreciation for the fullness, utility, and richness of the English language when put on paper by a master.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great story of a great man.
    This book is actually less an autobiography in the traditional sense we see today and more of a story told in two sections. The first is a letter to his son, while the second part he seemed to have been encouraged to write by a friend. The first letter is the story from his birth to his arrival in PA, while the send part picks up where the first leaves off and continues until just before our Revolution. But the result is the same - enlightenment about how important this man was.

    The prose in this book is, as you'd expect, 18th century so you get plenty of "thee" and "thy" but not to distraction. It is a compelling read and difficult to put down but the language gets tedious. As you can tell by my rating this does not diminish the quality of the book but may affect some potential readers.

    In all it's definitely worth your time and effort to understand one of the founding geniuses of our country. Really, this man is a true American hero. Where would we be without a free press, libraries and many of his other contributions? He was a skilled negotiator very much in the right place at the right time.

    Still, it would be all the more satisfying to hear his side of the events of the Revolution. I wonder at the gaping hole presented by this. Perhaps he was afraid of arrest or worse? One is left imagining whether there would even be a United States were it not for BF.

    It would be interesting if other readers might share other biographical recommendations, if any, that could shed light on the latter part of Mr. Franklin's life. This book is an essential first step towards a complete understanding of one of our founding fathers.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Living On Purpose, On Purpose -- And having fun too!
    This book came to me based on a recommendation by Anthony Robbins in his book "Awaken the Giant Within." And upon reading it, it occurs to me how many gurus have built on, or simply stolen, Ben Franklin's ideas for living a life with purpose, on purpose. (Cheers to Robbins for identifying his mentors and sources so openly.) "The Autobiography of Ben Franklin" is a quick easy read with many rewards. Learn about the man, discover the seed of modern self-help ideas, and see America though a unique set of eyes.

    About the writing. . . When Franklin took pen to paper his motivation was to share ideas with his son. In other words, he was writing a letter, and what a joy that it survived as a letter to each of us. Enjoy this book as insights offered by a dynamic individual. And, have the flexibility to enjoy writing that certainly isn't in the pop-culture mold of our century. I myself found this refreshing! If you like ideas and value the role mentors can play in our lives, then read this book today.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Best how-to manual to daily living
    Ben Franklin is the most amazing figure of American revolution. The essence of American life, a hero, a political figure, a self-made man, a scientist, a diplomat - turns out to be just a guy next door, a neighbor.

    I got this book on audio from a local library - and spent 6.5 wonderful hours listening to a friend, a teacher, a wise man. He is entertaining - but serious at the same time, he goes into great details of his dealings with people, business partners, politicians - but is never boring.

    Anyone who wants to learn how to connect with people, to become a better person, to grow a business and wealth, to be a good friend - and more - should read this book.

    I would recommend an audio format if you have choices - it really turns it into a conversation with Ben Franklin.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An Incomplete American Life
    Well, Ben Franklin's life was not incomplete, but his autobiography is. This is partly because Franklin never intended his book for publication.

    He was writing it for the benefit of his son - partly as a guide for life, and partly as a family history. Indeed, on the first page, Franklin writes that he has always enjoyed hearing stories about his ancestors, and hopes his son will be as interested to learn of his father's life. However, after Franklin's break with his son, he continues to write, but now it is for the benefit of all of his ancestors. Franklin's disagreement with his son William is just one of many details that are missing from this book.

    I was always interested in Franklin and it had long been a goal of mine to read his autobiography. Had I known that the years 1758-1790 were not covered, which were probably the most important and influential of his life, I might not have read it. And that would have been a mistake.

    For although the major events of the 1770s and 1780s are missing, like the American Revolution, the Treaty of Paris, and the Constitutional Convention, there is so much material about the early years of Franklin's life here that it is still a worthwhile book. Who knew Franklin was practically a champion swimmer, for example? We often think of Franklin as the elder statesman of the Founding Fathers, as indeed he was. Franklin was born 26 years before George Washington. But in this book we see Franklin as a boy and then a young man, whole periods of his life that are forgotten when one thinks of his later, great contributions.

    Thankfully, Franklin documents much of it, and it makes for terrific reading. His battles with his brother, his early struggles with established religion, his bold jump to Philadelphia, and then to London, when he was still so young. He even mentions that he was a regular patron of the local prostitutes in Philadelphia! This is not something you'd see in Poor Richard's Almanac, of that I am sure.

    Even though the book is lacking the major events of Franklin's later life, it is still rich in anecdotes and instruction. There is much to be learned from Ben, whether he was founding the first fire department or library, or making monetary contributions to every religious denomination in Philadelphia, or his attempts at achieving "moral perfection" - actions that demonstrated his industriousness, his tolerance, his wisdom.

    Franklin was an incredibly fascinating character and he remains one of the giants of American history. You wouldn't know it from reading this autobiography, but it doesn't matter; the historians have safely documented his legacy in other books. In these pages, in his own words, you learn what made Franklin tick, what he believed in, and why. And that's more than enough.

    Five stars. ... Read more

    19. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (The Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race
    list price: $27.99 -- our price: $14.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Isbn: 044657922X
    Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
    Sales Rank: 5
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Editorial Review

    The eagerly awaited new book from the Emmy-winning, Oscar-hosting, Daily Show-anchoring Jon Stewart--the man behind the megaseller America (The Book).

    Where do we come from? Who created us? Why are we here? These questions have puzzled us since the dawn of time, but when it became apparent to Jon Stewart and the writers of The Daily Show that the world was about to end, they embarked on a massive mission to write a book that summed up the human race: What we looked like; what we accomplished; our achievements in society, government, religion, science and culture -- all in a tome of approximately 256 pages with lots of color photos, graphs and charts.

    After two weeks of hard work, they had their book.EARTH (The Book) is the definitive guide to our species.With their trademark wit, irreverence, and intelligence, Stewart and his team will posthumously answer all of life's most hard-hitting questions, completely unburdened by objectivity, journalistic integrity, or even accuracy.

    Also available as an ebook and as an audiobook.
    ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars The anti-coffee table book
    If you've read or heard about America (The Book), know first that this book is fairly different. America (The Book) makes itself out to be a mock textbook, and has many long, hilarious text passages that skewer politics and education at the same time. However, there are also the occasional pages that are infographics, with jokes both in the images and the captions, that take up complete pages.

    Now imagine that the entire book were made out of these commented infographics, with the subject matter shifted from the USA to the entire planet, and aimed at an audience of aliens who find the Earth deserted after the human race spectacularly manufactures its own demise, and you have Earth (The Book).

    If you haven't read America (The Book) - and if not, what are you waiting for? You can grab the paperback for less than $10 here on Amazon - just think of this as the anti-coffee table book. It's a tome that delightfully destroys all aspects of society, from our perceptions of aliens to the planet itself to commerce, religion and culture. It can be picked up occasionally and flipped to a random page, as each joke is encapsulated and confined. Or, it can be read large sections at a time, with every word and picture perused until you can laugh no more. There is at least one brilliant joke per page, and quite often more than that.

    This book pokes fun at anything and everything, and you may find the finger pointing at yourself now and again. If you can't laugh at your own idiosyncrasies and beliefs, skip this book and recommend it to someone with a sense of humor. If you can't take a joke, this book isn't for you.

    The only down side, one that America (The Book) has less of a problem with, is that some of the jokes can't stand the test of time in the long term. In 50 years, the numerous pop culture references throughout the book will be largely forgotten, lost to the winds of time. It's better that way, of course, as their shallowness is a significant reason why this book makes fun of them. So perhaps this won't be one of the great literary classics, discussed and venerated for all time, but there's certainly enough timeless humor in here for it to be funny at least as long as you'll be alive. Get it now, and leave it in a conspicuous place when you're not reading it (the coffee table, perhaps?), so that when we do destroy ourselves, the aliens can see this message.

    Hopefully, they'll get the joke.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great fun!
    Very funny and informative, if you like Jon Stewart you will enjoy the book. As with most material that touches on evolution, it will likely make creationists uncomfortable. A sense of humor is required. Enjoy!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Jon Needs to Start a University
    This is tremendous fun. It is too bad the country seems to be so idiotically polarized now, because a great many ignorant people are missing out on a good time, merely by insisting to remain willfully ignorant.

    Buy this book and read it. Even if you have to forget who wrote it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get any better.
    Jon Stewart and the writers at The Daily Show are the best. If you have a sense of humor and understand even a tiny amount of science you will love this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
    Within 3 minutes of opening this book I was laughing out loud. Informative and hilarious. A definite must-have.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great concept, great execution
    This book's concept - explaining extinct human civilisation to visiting aliens - is flat out brilliant. It's presented in bite-sized bathroom chunks and it is always funny.

    My favourite chapter was the one page essay 'Society'.

    "The social contract provided a framework in which human interaction could occur on a reasonably fair basis. Person A was allowed to purchase the slave, but if he stole him he was guilty of a crime and had to repay Person B the dollar value of the human being he had stolen. The social contract itself was also subject to constant change and revision; a society that failed to periodically amend outdated provisions regarding how to dress or how much to subjugate women and minorities could find itself the laughing stock of diplomatic functions, unless it was situated atop reserves of natural resources."

    There's nary a dull page, and it's a big book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very funny!
    I bought this as a gift for my son, who is a big John Stewart fan. I find myself picking it up and laughing out loud. You don't have to agree with Stewart's politics to appreciate his sense of humor. Great gift idea. I now do most of my fiction reading on the kindle, but this is one book that wouldn't translate. Buy it! ... Read more

    20. Edgar Allan Poe's Complete Poetical Works
    by Edgar Allan Poe
    Kindle Edition
    list price: $0.00
    Asin: B000JMKW4S
    Publisher: Public Domain Books
    Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars
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    Editorial Review

    This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more


    5-0 out of 5 stars Free, but possibly not worth it, December 25, 2009
    I can't complain too much about free content, however, the format makes it almost not worth the time trying to decipher the titles and actually get to the poems. The contents contains no links to individual poems so you have to page through the entire volume to get where you want to go. Additionally, none of the poem titles that are listed in the contents are separated by punctuation; they read as one long continuous line of text, which needless to say, is unacceptable. Very poor presentation overall.

    1-0 out of 5 stars 2393 pages and no table of contents? Really?!, February 12, 2010
    How are you expected to get to what you want without a table of contents?! It is tedious to find the poem or story you want. You can book mark it, but you have no way of naming what you bookmarked so you are left with whatever excerpt of the top of the page you marked. Meaning that if you bookmarked The Raven, the excerpt was whatever poem finished at the top of the page since The Raven starts in the middle.

    1-0 out of 5 stars terrible layout for an e-book, June 20, 2009
    Zero formatting for the poetry. The Raven was presented as prose. Spend a dollar and get it done right.

    5-0 out of 5 stars My table of contents works....LOVE THIS BOOK, November 7, 2010
    Bought this book at the amazing price of free....well worth it. Was first concerned that I would have to page through the entire book to get what I wanted...however, my table of contents worked on my Kindle (newest generation). I noticed that after I selected the topic (i.e. poems, stories, essays, etc) I have to click the next page button and then a list of clickable titles showed up. Works and reads great on mine. :) Glad I went with this version.

    1-0 out of 5 stars Worth everything I paid for!, March 17, 2010
    OK, so it was free. I usually like things that are free, but in this case, it was a total waste. This electronic edition has no organization and no formatting. Difficult if not impossible to read, certainly not something you would sit down and enjoy.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Nice Book of classics, December 24, 2009
    What can I say, the formatting isn't that great and reading it on my gray low contrast kindle isn't the most fun, but this is a wonderful collection of stories.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Poe is a Master of Story-telling, December 16, 2010
    This version of Poe's work does not have a table of contents and thus makes it difficult to navigate through, however, it's free and Poe is a great writer so I guess the price is right. I would download it and read it as an introduction to his work if you are not familiar with it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars LOVE Poe, December 23, 2010
    This stuff never gets old. Incredible artist. I love that these are classics are available for Kindle free on Amazon. That is primarily why I bought the kindle for my son--to give him a fun new way to get all of the timeless classics. Thanks Amazon

    3-0 out of 5 stars Was ok but could be better, November 1, 2010
    Don't get me wrong, Edgar Allan Poe is a fantastic writer. I think this book could have had a better layout. It is still the same wonderful poems but that is the only reason i would give it three stars, for the poetry. It is a good thing it was free...

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Body of Work, October 24, 2010
    I love the imagery Poe conjurs. I love the dark psychological revelations experienced by the characters. Dark, intelligent, and at times underrated. Poe is probably one of the best poets/writers from his time. Died way too soon. His body of work is a must have for anyone interested in classic and intelligent literature. The same things that drew me to the Twilight Zone series, also draws me to Poe's work. They both use their respective mediums to showcase human nature in an abstract way. His writings depicted very real characters and subjects, at times dark but always cleverly written. Some of classic literature from this time seemed a bit dry and unwelcoming, Poe's work in contrast tends to dare you to take the first step into unfamiliar territory, knowing that the journey will both enrich and challenge the reader. For anyone either new to Poe's work or simply looking for something new and challenging to read, I'd recommend this. ... Read more

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