cuckoosThis is the latest addition to my Kindle. It’s a crime novel released a couple of years ago, by an unknown author. At first few people were paying attention, but the book quickly began generating a buzz. Here’s a perceptive reader review, posted shortly after the novel appeared:

This book is so well written that I suspect that some years down the road we will hear the author’s name is a pseudonym of some famous writer. Lots of description made one feel like another occupant in the scene. You could feel the weather, the tension, the pain, the atmosphere in the gatherings.

Nicely done, reader! As it turns out, “Robert Galbraith” is actually J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter novels. At this point she’s released two additional books featuring London private investigator Cormoran Strike under the Galbraith name, and they’re reportedly gritty and grimy and built for an adult audience.

I’ve been intrigued from the start, but don’t like paying full-price for my books. I mean, what am I, Ted Turner? Finally, my patience paid off (once again) and I downloaded The Cuckoo’s Calling for just $2.99. As I type this, it’s still at that low price in the Kindle Store. Check it out, if you’re so inclined. I’m looking forward to it!

boyslifeI read this book many years ago, probably when it first came out in paperback, around 1992. But I just downloaded it to my Kindle, and plan to read it again soon.

When it comes to books and movies, and that sort of thing, I don’t have a very good memory. I’m amazed when people can talk about specific scenes in films they’ve only seen once, a long time ago. With me the forgetting begins almost immediately. While the credits are rolling… the degradation is already underway.

What I do recall, however, is my emotional reaction to books and movies. Not so much the specifics, but how I felt about them, in general. And I remember being blown away by Boy’s Life, thinking it was surely one of the best books I’d ever read.

My vague recollections: it’s very Southern, it’s a well-crafted coming-of-age novel, and there’s a mystery element. And… it’s really, really good. I remember thinking it was almost To Kill A Mockingird-good. But I’m going to read it again, to confirm all this.

Today Boy’s Life is $1.99 in the Kindle store. My central nervous system is telling me it’s a good one. And I’ve learned to trust the system.

Jurassic ParkI’ve never read this book. I saw the movie at some point, but don’t remember much about it. There’s a good chance I was drunk, but that’s neither here nor there. Didn’t Newman get eviscerated during the first reel? It’s all very unclear to me.

I’ve also never read a Michael Crichton novel. He was super-popular, which was a strike against him in my eyes, back during snobbier times. Plus, his shit was science-heavy, wasn’t it? Funk dat.

But, I’ve heard and read so many people say that Jurassic Park the book is an absolute blast to read, I added it to my Kindle Wishlist somewhere along the line. It feels like two years ago. And today my patience paid off, once  again. I snagged that baby for $1.99.

I don’t know what’s going on with it. It might be a one-day price reduction, so grab it now if you’re so inclined. I’m going to wait for a gray winter day, and get into this thing. Should be fun.

Martian coverIt’s funny how I keep saying “this is not my usual kind of book,” over and over again. Perhaps it’s time to reexamine the definition of my “kind of book?”

In any case, I read this one a few months ago and got all caught-up in it ‘n’ shit. It’s a story about an astronaut mistakenly left alone on Mars. His fellow crew members believed he’d been killed, and were forced to evacuate quickly during a storm. So, when he regained consciousness he realized he was now on his own. On Mars.

It’s a really fun book. The astronaut is the narrator, and is a regular guy with an enormous amount of training. He goes full-Macgyver with whatever equipment he has at his disposal, and is also really sarcastic and funny. This thing is suspenseful and exciting, and also full of laughs.

Another cool thing about it? It was originally self-published. The author was unknown, traditional publishers wouldn’t give him the time of day, and his book is now an international phenomenon. There’s also a movie version coming, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon. So suck on that, traditional publishers!

As I type this The Martian is $5.99 for Kindle. You’ll have a blast with it. Here’s the trailer for the film:

Jaws coverI was eleven years old when this book was released, and it felt like all of America was reading it. I saw it everywhere: at bus stops, swimming pools, by the Burger Chef works bar. That doesn’t really happen with books anymore, because we’re all reading on Kindles or tablets, and can’t see covers. It’s too bad, really.

The Spielberg-directed movie was great, of course. Until the very end, anyway, when they blew the shark up. That always bothered me, because it seemed so over-the-top and Hollywood-like. It was the only bum note in an otherwise fantastic flick.

The book is different than the movie. Not completely different, of course, but substantially so. I just read it for the first time a few months ago. It’s good. It holds up, and I enjoyed the ride.

I wonder if the publisher temporarily lowered the price on the Kindle version to $1.99 because of all the shark attacks in the news this summer? It’s a fairly cynical thought, therefore probably right on the money. In any case, if you’re looking for some old-school 1970s thrills, you can’t do much better than this classic.

One That Got Away coverI read a lot of these kinds of books. You know, crime and suspense and that sort of thing? I always check reviews and try to steer clear of the garbage. Oh, there’s no shortage of garbage out there… After I bought my first Kindle I was less-discerning, and read two or three chapters of many low-priced books by people who shouldn’t be writing books. Maybe not even emails or filthy poems over urinals.

Even though I’m now doing my due diligence, and maintaining a higher level of quality, the stories still sometimes run together in my memory. This one stands out more than most.

Zoe and her friend were abducted by a murderous weirdo during a night of heavy drinking. Zoe escaped, but her friend was killed. She feels profoundly guilty, believes she could have done more to help, and her life unravels. Then she sees something on the news that snaps her out of it. The freak is at it again.

It’s not a perfect book. I remember groaning once or twice, when things got a little preachy and melodramatic. But it’s well-plotted, moves quickly, and is a genuine page-turner. Today it’s $1.99 in the Kindle Store. You won’t be disappointed.

the shining coverPerhaps you’ve heard of this one? It’s a classic from back in the days when Stephen King’s publisher seemed to insist on at least a small amount of editing. Nowadays I suspect he just emails a Word document, they slap a cover on it, and everybody starts cashing checks.

I read this a million years ago, and loved it. In fact, I loved all the earlyish King books, with the exception of Cujo. Ironically, I thought that one was a dog.

Needless to say, this is the basis for the 1980 movie of the same name, directed by Stanley Kubrick and starring Jack Nicholson. You know, the one that EVERYBODY loves, except for Stephen King himself? Good stuff.

The Shining is available in the Kindle Store for $1.99 today. You simply can’t go wrong.

Dark Places coverFor years Gillian Flynn reviewed books, movies, and TV shows for Entertainment Weekly. Then she wrote a novel, Stephen King called it “an admirably nasty piece of work,” and everything changed.

She now has three books, the most recent being Gone Girl, which was a genuine phenomenon. That novel was turned into a pretty good movie that was at least thirty minutes too long.

Dark Places is the second book. It feels like it gets the least amount of attention, but is my favorite of the bunch. It concerns a woman who, along with her older brother, survived a night of horror when she was a child. Somebody came into their house and killed most of the family. The brother was convicted of the crime, and sent away for life.

The woman is flawed, and sometimes not even likable. She lives off the fame of being a formerly cute li’l victim of a terrible tragedy. And when she starts investigating that fateful night (she remembers very little), it’s because she’s getting paid to do it. Her motives are not pure. I love it! The protagonists in these kinds of books are usually driven by some righteous fire burning inside them. Not so this one.

As I type this, Dark Places is $2.99 for Kindle.

Pines coverBlake Crouch is one of those dudes that inspire new writers. I don’t know his current situation — I suspect it’s changed — but when I first became aware of him, he was self-publishing his novels. And doing well for himself, very well indeed.

The first Crouch novel I read was called Run. It was crazy, and relentless. I wouldn’t call it literature, but it was certainly fun. The book stood out in my mind enough for me to make a mental note of the author’s name, and maybe check out his other books.

Pines is the first installment of a trilogy, and it’s better than Run. Again, it’s not Hemingway, but it’s bubbling over with creativity and twisted entertainment. It concerns an FBI agent who is sent to the small town of Wayward Pines, Idaho, in search of two other agents who have gone missing. Immediately he’s involved in a serious traffic accident, and wakes up in a hospital that feels a tad off. From there, shit gets wild.

I’ve read all three books, and recommend them. Start with Pines, of course. I think it’s always priced at $3.99 for the Kindle edition. But, I could be wrong, so don’t dawdle. (Wow! I don’t think I’ve ever used that word before.) There’s now a TV series based on the books, starring Matt Dillon. I watched the first episode, and wasn’t blown away. But people seem to like it, so maybe I’ll give it another chance? In any case, the novels are completely wacked-out and worthy. The Suggestaholic suggests you check ’em out.