Kindle Freebies – May 31, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

Some genre fiction: fantasy, paranormal and horror. This includes a vampire novel. I haven’t read one of those in awhile. Only one recipe book and it looks fabulous, combining a delicious combination of book reviews with recipes. Add to this a writer’s guide to feeding your muse. Yummy. Nonfiction grabs also include a user’s guide for all formats of the Kindle. Very useful! For travel, I picked up a guide to London’s airports. A couple of years ago, I had to find my way from London City airport to Kensington on public transportation. This book would have come in handy. Add to that more Top Sights city guides, including one for London.


The House of Grey- Volume 1 by Collin Earl
The House of Grey- Volume 2 by Collin Earl
Fantasy, friendship, and fate await you in Collin Earl’s The House of Grey, based on the popular audio fiction by the same name. 14-year-old Monson Grey faces the same challenges that any freshman high school kid would: difficult classes, weird teachers, food fights…girls. Except, Monson Grey is not Monson Grey. At least, when he looks at himself in the mirror, the scarred face staring back is not someone he recognizes. Now he finds himself attending an extraordinary school, the recipient of an incredible scholarship, among ridiculously rich classmates, all with no memory of how he got there or what to expect. All he has from his former life are the flashes of haunting images that plague his dreams and the echoing voices that he hears, but cannot see. Luckily, Monson finds fast friendship in two of his classmates, Casey and Artorius. Little does Monson know, they too carry their own skeletons. Yet, as bizarre events start to unfold around them, Monson wonders what secrets lay buried in his mind or if he will ever be able to share his true fears with his newfound friends.

War of the Seasons, Book 1: The Human by Janine Spendlove
Eirnin’s silver eyes, now showing hints of bright yellow, widened in astonishment as he stared, transfixed, at the red blood dripping from the wound on Story’s foot. “What are you?” A simple question with a not-so-simple answer for seventeen-year-old Story, who finds herself, a lone human, thrust in the middle of a war between creatures she once thought only existed in faerie tales.

Alone (The ‘Serenity’ Series) by Marissa Farrar
Caught in a violent and abusive relationship, Serenity thinks there is no escape. On the day she fears her life can get no worse, she meets a stranger, Sebastian, who shows her the possibility of a different future. Only Sebastian has a dark secret; he is a vampire. As Serenity’s life takes a terrifying turn, she finds herself drawn into a world she never knew existed; one of murder, love and immortality. She is forced to confront her own weaknesses to save both her own life and that of the vampire she has come to love. But in the end all that matters is; can she find the strength to be Alone?

The Grind Show by Phil Tucker
For those who can see demons there is but one maxim: hunt them down until your luck runs out, and then hope for an easy death. Or so Jason thought until one hellish night in a desert ghost town leaves his life in ruins and his soul tainted with demonic power. Now the tables are turned and he’s the prey, forced to fight a running battle to keep himself and his friends alive. But at what price is he willing to buy his freedom? The demons care nothing for collateral damage, and as the death toll mounts the darkness within him grows stronger, making it ever harder for Jason to resist the allure of his newfound powers…

Recipe Books

The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook by Christy Dorrity
Great books, bloggers, and recipes meet in this fresh and unique cookbook that helps you experience books, not just read them. Books were selected from the author’s book review blog and paired with delectable recipes like “Fairy Touched Calico Brownies” from the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, “7-Day Layer Dip” from Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall, and “I Hate Chocolate Cake” from Amanda Hocking’s Switched. Mouthwatering photos complement every recipe. The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook includes a foreword by Amanda Hocking, author of the USA Today Bestselling Trylle Trilogy and showcases over seventy reviews with links to book review blogs and author websites. Whether you’re a food lover, an avid reader or a book blogger, there’s something for you in The 2011 Book Blogger’s Cookbook.


The Complete 2012 User’s Guide to the Amazing Amazon Kindle by Stephen Windwalker and Bruce Grubbs
Finally, one user-friendly guide that covers every Kindle now on the market for 2012, including the Kindle Fire, in a single comprehensive volume chock full of tips, tricks, and links to unlock cool features, save you hundreds on Kindle content, and help you get the most out of your Kindle. Stephen Windwalker founded the popular Kindle Nation Daily community and has been helping Kindle owners get up to speed ever since his first Kindle guide was the #1 bestselling book in the entire Kindle store for 2008. Now he has teamed up with popular outdoors and travel author Bruce Grubbs to provide the most complete and up-to-date resource ever for Kindle owners.

Muse Food (Recipes for Creativity) by Amber Scott and Jess Macallan
Has doubt been following you like a shadow ever since that last rejection letter showed up in your inbox? Does just the thought of writing make your stomach hurt? Your critique partner insists you should try an outline because it would help you so, so much yet the very idea makes you gag. Ugh.Never fear! MUSE FOOD is here! Discover what makes your muse thrive with these tips and tricks tailored to each author personality.


From The Airport to the City-London, England by Kerwin McKenzie
London, England, is served by six airports: City (LCY), Gatwick (LGW), Heathrow (LHR), Luton (LTN), Stansted (STN) and Southend (SEN). This Guide will provide information on how to get to the city of London and also between each of the airports. The Guide also gives information on how to get to the airport hotels at London-Gatwick and London-Heathrow airports. So if you’re heading to London from the airports, this is your transportation Guide. Get it today.

Top Sights Travel Guide: London

Top Sights Travel Guide: Istanbul

Top Sights Travel Guide: Innsbruck

Top Sights Travel Guide: Bergen

Top Sights Travel Guide: Montpellier

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Kindle Freebies – May 30, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

A large batch of fresh hot freebies. I guess I’m making up for lost time. I’ve included another bunch of Top Sight city guides. I have feeling I missed some while I was busy at the convention. Oh well. Some of today’s books are in batches, including a set of four fantasy horror books and a trio of traditional British baking books. I also picked up a recipe book for food allergies, since I have a number of allergy-stricken friends I don’t know how to cook for. Plus, so much more. Take a look!


The Bullied Series Box Set by Christopher Smith
In Christopher Smith’s international best-seller BULLIED, the relentlessly bullied 18-year-old Seth Moore is gifted an amulet that ignites within him a wealth of supernatural powers. If Seth uses the amulet properly, it will protect him from those determined to crush him. But after so many years of being beaten down and humiliated, the question is whether Seth can resist creating a firestorm of horror when the bullies around him create one fatal, awful act that begs for revenge. Soon, all hell breaks loose. And when it does, a war builds against Seth as others vie to take control of the amulet and use its powers for themselves. It’s a war that could mean the death of Seth’s friends–and even Seth himself.

Bound (The Crystor) by C.K. Bryant
When a photo shoot ends in tragedy, Kira discovers her best friend, Lydia, has been keeping a secret. Knowing the truth, and accepting it, will change Kira’s life forever and thrust her into a world of ancient curses, magical objects, and savage enemies. What happens next will challenge everything Kira knows about her world, herself and the shape-shifting warrior she’s falling in love with. No longer the timid mouse her mother accused her of being, but a woman who finds the mental and physical strength to endure and survive.

Diary of the Displaced by Glynn James
There is a place where nightmares are real. It is a dark and terrifying place, hidden from the world we know, by borders that only the most unfortunate of souls will ever cross. James Halldon woke up in the dark, alone, without any food or water, without a clue where he was, and with no memory of where he came from. It only got stranger. For James has somehow found his way to The Corridor. A place where zombies stumble in the darkness, ever seeking the flesh and blood of the living. A midnight land where tentacled behemoths spawn in the fetid swamps. Nightmares that no human should ever see. The prison of a creature that has destroyed entire worlds. Somehow James has to learn to survive. But he is not alone. The lost souls of others who have drifted into this infernal place and died, also haunt this world. Trapped forever in the afterlife.


Composting Inside & Out by Stephanie Davies
Hundreds of millions of tons of solid waste are produced in the U.S. annually, and the landfills simply store it, not eliminate it. Recycling diverts significant amounts of waste, but the fact remains that the majority of landfill space is occupied by organic material. The good news is composting is a natural and beneficial way to eliminate this waste, and anyone can do it. Whether you live on a farm, in the suburbs or a city apartment, composting is possible. Composting Inside and Out will introduce you to the essentials and explore various methods of indoor and outdoor composting to help you find the perfect fit for your lifestyle.

Portrait of a Homeless Art History Student Zoltan Hepzipig
A memoir of homelessness. A creative nonfiction account of a college dropout who lives homeless in Cincinnati from 1989-90. Written in second person, present tense. Includes adult content.


The Everything Food Allergy Cookbook by Linda Larsen
Food allergies in the United States are growing at an alarming rate and, unfortunately, children are often afflicted with more than one allergy. For the families, preparing a meal can be unnerving. This cookbook takes the guesswork out of shopping and cooking delicious meals everyone will enjoy.

Traditional British Recipes by Jane Romsey
Traditional British Scone Recipes
Traditional British Cake Recipes
Traditional British Biscuit Recipes


Top Sights Travel Guide: Copenhagen
Top Sights Travel Guide: Vienna
Top Sights Travel Guide: St Petersburg
Top Sights Travel Guide: Monte Carlo
Top Sights Travel Guide: Rhodes
Top Sights Travel Guide: Bordeaux
Top Sights Travel Guide: Leipzig


Puzzlebook: 103 Puzzle Quizzes by The Grabarchuk Family
This is Volume 4 of the Top Rated Puzzlebook: Puzzle Quizzes series. In this brand-new puzzle collection you will find 103 pictorial, hand-crafted puzzle quizzes in different themes: visual, spatial, counting, geometry, matchstick, coins, searching, and much more. Be sure to check Puzzlebook: 100 Puzzle Quizzes, Puzzlebook: 101 Puzzle Quizzes and Puzzlebook: 102 Puzzle Quizzes for more!

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Fanime 2012

Or How I Spent My Memorial Day Weekend

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I have attended Fanime, an anime convention in San Jose, California, almost every Memorial Day weekend for the past 12 years. Why would I do such a thing? Because it’s fun! It’s like being in the middle of a huge costume party that runs nonstop for four days. And I like anime, so going to the convention helps me keep up with what’s new and exciting.

This year, I found a new anime to watch called “Tiger and Bunny.” I know. Sounds like something fluffy and light, but it’s actually a superhero story, and it looks pretty good. I  found a beautiful online manga called “Knite.” Can’t wait to see more of that. And I watched a touching movie called, “Sunny,” about seven Koren schoolgirls and the women they become.

In-between, I strolled Artists’ Alley, where talented artists sell their work. Some of the art is specific to a particular fandom, while other artists sell their own work, usually drawn in the style of manga, Japanese comics. I also spent some time at Clockwork Alchemy, the steampunk sister convention to Fanime. One ticket got you into both conventions, with free shuttles running between both venues 24 hours a day. Sweet.

A special shout-out goes to my friend, Jennifer, who attends this glorious geekfest with me every year. We do have fun.

Do I dress up? Not really. Not unless you count wearing cat ears and a Sherlock T-shirt as dressing up (I don’t.) However, I love seeing the people who cosplay (i.e., wear costumes.) Most people make their own costumes and they are incredibly creative. Think about it. They don’t have patterns. They are making costumes based on reading a comic or watching an animation.That can’t be easy.

The front of the convention center was packed from morning to evening with cosplayers posing for photos. It’s a lot of fun to take pictures. Above are some of my favorite photos from this year’s convention.

Next year, where will I geek out: Fanime or Eurovision? San Jose or Stockholm? It’s a big decision. We’ll see which one I choose.

Sweden Wins Eurovision 2012!

Loreen has won the Eurovison 2012 contest with her dance hit, “Euphoria.” Congratulations to her and to Sweden. This was a much better performance than the semi-finals. She moved and sang with confidence, and overall looked like a winner.

I was able to watch the grand finale in my hotel room, as long as I didn’t use full screen on my computer. Not too happy about that, but very happy that I was able to watch the show live. Thanks to for making that possible.

Actually, one benefit to watching on the smaller view screen was that I could simultaneously read the Twitter feed on the side. There were lots of funny comments. Some of the funniest had to do with financial crisis. One person tweeted, “The loser has to pay Greece’s way home.” Another tweeted, “Want to piss off Angela Merkel? Vote for Greece. They’ll have a huge party and Germany will have to pay the bill.” And another tweeted, “Ireland sent Jedward so they wouldn’t win and have to foot the bill for hosting next year’s Eurovision.”

It was interesting to see the voting process. Each of the 42 participating countries had a representative announce their top 10 and points would be tallied on a board. It’s a little confusing because the highest score is 12. The points go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 12. For whatever reason, they give first place 12 points and second place 10 points. Still confused? It’s explained here.

Most countries favored their neighbors. For example, Greece and Cyprus gave each other 12 points. Turkey and Azerbaijan also exchanged the 12 point love. Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland all gave their 12 points to Sweden. Maybe it was so they could party in Stockholm next year.

Russia came in second place, but Loreen beat the Babushki by more than 100 points, so it was pretty much a landslide. Third place went to Serbia, fourth, to Azerbaijan and fifth, to Albania. Some of my favorites scored quite low, in particular the United Kingdom, France and Denmark. Norway had the lowest score, which surprised me. I thought Tooji’s performance deserved better than that.

Here are the scoreboards for the semi-finals and the finale, showing how each country voted.

First Semi-final Scoreboard

Second Semi-final Scoreboard

Grand Finale Scoreboard

I really enjoyed the experience watching Eurovision. I learned about other countries that had previously been obscure to me and I heard some really great music. There were also some not-so-great moments of performance, but so it goes. What appeals to one culture won’t necessarily appeal to another. Then there are those songs that can crossover and find a wide, appreciative audience. Congratulations to Loreen for singing such a song.

See you next year in Sweden!

Eurovision Second Semi-Final Results

It so happens that the Eurovison grand finale takes place during a holiday weekend in the U.S. This would be great, except I’m spending the weekend in a hotel with a mediocre Internet connection. I am uncertain of my ability to watch the finale live, which disappoints me. I was also inflight during the second semi-final and have only just caught up with watching the performances.

These are the ten countries who made it into the grand finale. They are listed in the order they were announced, but this does not reflect the number of votes, which remains unknown.

  1. Lithuania
  2. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  3. Serbia
  4. Ukraine
  5. Sweden
  6. Macedonia
  7. Norway
  8. Estonia
  9. Malta
  10. Turkey

I am very pleased that all the second semi-finalists in my top ten list made it through: Sweden, Malta and Estonia. I wasn’t so pleased about Turkey. One of my least favorite songs. I don’t know how that one squeaked by. I’m pretty much fine with the rest of the list, though I wish Donny Montell of Lithuania would lose the bling blindfold. It looks so cheesy.

For me, there were three standout performances of the show.

Kurt Calleja, representing Malta with This Is The Night

Great energy. Loved his stage presence. He sounded great and the band was tight, even with their dance movements.

Tooji, representing Norway with Stay

Another energetic performance. He and the dancers looked like they were having a great time up there. Very entertaining.

Gaitana, represending Ukraine with Be My Guest

I didn’t love the wreath of roses in her hair. Other than that, she sounded great. This song was an early favorite of mine. I particularly liked the dancers on the screens in the background. Nice choreography.

Loreen from Sweden and Ott Lepland from Estonia remain in my top three. Ott’s seemed nervous, so I’m hoping he shakes off those nerves and wows us in the finale. Loreen looked and sounded great, but nothing I haven’t seen from her before. I’m hoping she does something different for the finale.

The grand finale will air today, May 25, at 21:00 CET (Central Europe Time). If you can’t watch it on TV, you can stream it online at Eurovision TV.

12 points to Sweden! I believe “Euphoria” will win the night. However, I’ll still be pleased if Nina Zilli of Italy or Ott Lepland of Estonia win instead.

If Jedward wins… well, at least Ireland won’t be sending them back again. Or will they?

Enjoy the show!

Kindle Freebies – May 25, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

I’m on travel, currently in San Jose, CA, for a convention. More about that later. I have some spare time this morning, so loaded up on freebies. I probably won’t have time for more freebies until next week.

For fiction, it’s a grab bag of epic fantasy, historical fiction, a scifi novella and a three-in-one boxed set of suspense. Since travel can be hard on the body, a green tea book sounded useful. A staycation guide to the San Francisco Bay Area intrigued me. I lived there most of my life and know a lot of hotspots, but I’m sure there’s plenty I’ve missed.

On Wednesday, I downloaded a Video Poker game, and really loved playing it on the plane. Today, I downloaded another game that is hopefully plane-worthy.


Sloane Monroe Series Boxed Set (Books 1-3) by Cheryl Bradshaw
Black Diamond Death: On the slopes of Park City, Utah’s newest ski resort a woman is found dead. At first glance, it has all the makings of an accident. But what if she was murdered? Although skeptical, PI Sloane Monroe takes the case and learns not everyone is who they seem, and some will go to any lengths to protect their identity.

Sinnerman: PI Sloane Monroe has solved every case that’s come across her desk with the exception of one—the brutal murder of her sister Gabrielle. Three years have passed without a trace of the serial killer until today, when a young woman’s body is discovered on a patch of dirt in front of the local supermarket. Will Sloane exact her revenge before Sinnerman slays his next victim, or will she be too late?

I Have a Secret: It’s been twenty years since PI Sloane Monroe has returned to her hometown of Tehachapi, California, but when a former classmate is stabbed and tossed overboard during the high school reunion cruise, Sloane isn’t about to allow a murderer to run free in her own backyard. But in a town where everyone is harboring secrets, how many more men will die before she discovers the truth?

The Grimoire: Lichgates by S.M. Boyce
The Grimoire turns its own pages and can answer any question asked of it, and Kara Magari is its next target. Kara has no idea what she’s getting herself into when she stumbles across the old book while hiking a hidden trail. Once she opens it, she’s thrown into Ourea: a beautiful world full of terrifying things that want the Grimoire’s secrets. Everyone in this new world is trying to find her, and most want to control the new-found power the book bestows upon her. Even if Kara does escape, Ourea will only drag her back. Braeden Drakonin grew up in Ourea, and all he’s ever known of life is lying. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. He has one question to ask the book—one question that can fix everything in his broken world—and he’s not letting Kara out of his sight until he gets an answer.

The Year-god’s Daughter (The Child of the Erinyes) by Rebecca Lochlann
Crete: A place of magic, of mystery, where violence and sacrifice meet courage and hope. Aridela: Wrapped in legend, beloved of the people. An extraordinary woman who dances with bulls. The north wind brings a swift ship and two brothers who plot Crete’s overthrow. Desire for this woman will propel their long rivalry into hatred so murderous it hurtles all three into an unimaginable future, and sparks the immortal rage of the Erinyes. A woman of keen instinct and unshakeable loyalty. A proud warrior prince and his wounded half-brother. Glory, passion, treachery and conspiracy on the grandest scale.

Shadow Stations: Unseen by Ann Grant
After college student Amy Wong hikes across an isolated Pennsylvania field with her German shepherd, a stranger stops her by a fence to ask for directions. The man disturbs her, from the taunt behind his eyes to the way her dog shies away from him. To her relief they part ways. But when she sees his cell phone fall from his coat, she can’t leave it on the ground. She decides she ought to return it to him… and discovers that instead of a cell, it’s a device that opens a terrifying window to scenes she never was supposed to see.

Recipe Books

The Big Book of Green Tea by Infinite Health
Green tea history, different types of green tea, health benefits, how to brew green tea properly and 25 health boosting green tea recipes. Green tea is a relative newcomer to the Western health and fitness world. China and Japan have been enjoying this health boosting beverage for thousands of years but Western studies into the health benefits of green tea did not start until the 1990s. However, since those initial studies, interest in green tea has skyrocketed and it has now become one of the most popular and widely consumed health drinks on the market.


Staycation Destinations, Short Getaways In and Near the San Francisco Bay Area by Robert Ross Talley
You may have been to a zoo, but have you ever tried sleeping overnight in one where you may hear the lions or tigers snore? Have you gone indoor skydiving in Union City or driven race cars in Fairfield or Rohnert Park? In our book, “Staycation Destinations, Short Getaways In and Near the San Francisco Bay Area”, we point you in the direction of places and activities that you may not have heard about in addition to the more famous venues. For instance nearly everyone in the Bay Area knows about the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, but how many folks know Playland-Not-at-the-Beach is in El Cerrito? These are just a few of the 70 exciting Staycation things to do within an hour or two from wherever you are in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Shuffled Row
Can you keep up with Shuffled Row? See how many words you can make from 60 lettered tiles. The tiles are added to your row one at a time so you’ll constantly be working with a new set of letters. After you submit a word, the letters you used will be removed and new ones will be added. Increase your score by using less common letters. Create longer words and increase your score even more. If you don’t use the letters fast enough, they’ll disappear and new ones will take their place, so you’ll have to decide if you want to play it safe and use short words or try to wait for more letters to form longer words.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

eBook Freebies – Libraries and Loans

Check it out at the library

Another way to read great eBooks for free is to visit your local library online. Many libraries allow you to check out eBooks. It’s very similar to checking out a book in the actual library. You are allowed to keep the book for a limited amount of time. There are no late fees because, unlike the hard copy, once your time is up, the book will simply disappear.

You don’t need money, but you do need a library card. Generally speaking, the card will need to be from your local library. For example, I have a card that is good for the Boulder Public Library system. This allows me to download books from the Front Range Downloadable Library. The supported formats are Kindle, Adobe EPUB and Adobe PDF. Audiobook downloads are available in the MP3 and WMA formats. The lending period is 14 days.

This is all sounds great, and it is, but, just like checking out a hard copy, the number of available eBook copies are limited. For example, there are long wait lists for currently popular books like “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter” and “The Tiger’s Wife.” But after some browsing around, you can probably find a title you like.

Give and take with Kindle loans

Let’s say you’ve just read a really good book on your Kindle and would like to loan it to a friend who also owns a Kindle. A large number of Amazon books are available to loan out. These don’t tend to be the big sellers, but those aren’t always the best books anyway.

To loan out a book, you’ll need to log into your account on Amazon and go to the Manage Your Kindle page. In your Kindle Library, you’ll notice pull-down menus marked “Actions” to the right of each book. If a book is available to loan, you will see “Loan this title” in the menu. Click on that and follow the instructions.

Kindle books can be loaned for a period of 14 days. During that period, you will not have access to your book. It’s the same as if you loaned the hard copy to a friend, except you are guaranteed its eventual return.

I don’t know about other eReaders and would be happy to hear if they, too, allow loans.

Borrowing and loaning are great ways to look into books and authors you’re uncertain about without having to make a permanent commitment. It takes a little extra effort but, hey, it’s free.

Don’t know if your local library provides eBooks? The library’s website should have more information. Another resource is Overdrive. Enter your zip code and you’ll be directed to a list of local libraries that provide eBooks.

Kindle Freebies – May 23, 2012

Today I Loaded My Kindle With…

Dark fantasy, horror, dystopia and suspense. Why so gloomy? I don’t know. I’m in a pretty good mood. For recipe books, I grabbed some finger food: appetizers and sushi. Nom-nom! Today’s travel selection includes two budget guides to New York City and a journey across America travelogue. Speaking of travel, I’ll be heading for California soon, so I downloaded a couple of card games to play while inflight.


Little Deaths by John F.D. Taff
You think you’ve got bad dreams? Consider author John F.D. Taff’s nightmares. How about the one where a guy resurrects his dead girlfriend with a set of the prop neck bolts used on Boris Karloff in the 1932 classic Frankenstein? Or one where the ghost of the author’s dead dog keeps coming back to entice him into death so they can be together? Or the one where a guy loves candy…to death? Taff has the kind of nightmares no one really wants. But it’s nightmares like these that give him plenty of ideas to explore; ideas that he’s turned into the short stories he shares in this new collection Little Deaths.

Lords of Rainbow by Vera Nazarian
In a world devoid of color, the woman warrior Ranhé swears herself to a mysterious nobleman traveling to the exotic city of Tronaelend-Lis, the City of Dreams, where a decadent brother and sister rule as co-regents in the absence of the land’s true ruler. When an evil being representing true Darkness threatens the safety of the colorless world, Ranhé is drawn into a spiritual journey in search of a legendary phenomenon known as Rainbow in an attempt to find a way to defeat the dark. The author of Dreams of the Compass Rose brings to life a unique fantasy world in which lost colors hold the key to salvation.

One by One by Phil Tucker
For Peter, the end of civilization begins quietly with the disappearance of his mother. At the police station he learns that thousands of others have gone mysteriously missing overnight, and that tens of millions more are vanishing daily across the globe. Without explanation humanity finds itself facing its final year on the planet, and it is only then that Peter falls in love. Her name is Sophia, and though both are haunted by loss they find in each other a passion that is as real as it is worth fighting for. As the government buckles and then collapses, as the darkest registers of human nature are sounded and a brutal demagogue rises to lead a reign of terror, they strive to find meaning and purpose in a world that is bereft of all certainties but one: that they too are fated to disappear.

212: A Novel by Alafair Burke
Burke’s third white-knuckle thriller finds NYPD Det. Ellie Hatcher (after Angel’s Tip) and her partner, J.J. Rogan, investigating the murder of NYU student Megan Gunther, who’s the target of threatening posts on a college gossip Web site. The death of bodyguard Robert Robo Mancini, whose bullet-ridden corpse turns up in a swanky new building, the 212, built by Sam Sparks, the high-powered Manhattan real-estate developer Robo worked for, ups the ante. When Sam makes it clear that the police won’t have access to any company records, Ellie’s interest is piqued. As she and J.J. try to piece together Megan’s life, they discover a link between the student and a recently murdered real estate agent. With her usual tenacity, Ellie pursues leads that put both her career and her life at risk.

Recipe Books

Sushi 101: The Fundamental Ingredients, Techniques and Concepts of Sushi by Cooking Penguin
This book is a beginner’s guide to rolling sushi. It is clearly laid out with simple explanations of all of the fundamental recipes and techniques required for making delicious and healthy sushi at home. On your first attempt your will impress yourself and soon you will be impressing friends and family with the amazing food you are able to prepare; three different styles of sushi with many different types, a variety of sauces, and Japanese pizza or Okonomiyaki. These recipes are great as a meal or a snack; serving sushi at your next party is sure to be a hit with your guests.

A Foodie’s Guide to Yummy Appetizer & Snack Recipes by Dante and Jennie Morelli
In Easy Appetizer Recipes Dante & Jennie Morelli share a collection of their favorite, mouthwatering appetizers, dips & salsa and dipping sauces. These are quick and easy recipes that you can prepare for your own family dinners or take to a party. Most of these appetizer recipes are also great as snacks for watching television or home movies.


New York City Made Easy by Laurie Bain Wilson
A snappy Kindle travel guide to New York City by bestselling author Laurie Bain Wilson. Wilson is also the author of newly-released “New York City With Kids” for Kindle, and is co-author of several “Murder, She Wrote” books including “Manhattans and Murder,” which partly takes place in, yes, Manhattan! Wilson is a NYC expert, having also written dozens of recent articles about the City for outlets like Travel Channel.

Sredni Vashtar’s Dirt Cheap NYC for the 99% by Michel Pravadorsky
Sredni Vashtar’s Dirt Cheap NYC for the 99% features 700+ Free and Cheap Delights in New York City that save you money and time at an incredible price of 99 Cents. This handy e-book is a great companion providing money-saving information on over 370 cheap eats, several museums, scores of entertainment options, concerts, operas, Broadway shows, cheap accommodation, cheap transportation, interesting sights and so much more in the five boroughs of New York City.

The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America by Mike McIntyre
McIntyre decided to confront his fears and the shaky path his life was taking by hitchhiking from San Francisco to Cape Fear, N.C. Along the way, he hoped to find some kindness in the soul of America and vowed to accept no money, only food, shelter and friendship. Rather like William Least-Heat Moon’s Blue Highways or Andrei Codrescu’s Road Scholar, The Kindness of Strangers is the story of those who help and hinder his journey: the vast array of kind souls and weirdoes, as well as Americana at its best and worst. McIntyre writes eloquently and rekindles optimism in America’s character.


Blackjack – one of the most popular casino card games of all time is now available on Kindle. The Kindle version features all of the most common aspects of the game including splits, double down, surrender and insurance, as well as multiple options for customization that allow you to play the style of Blackjack that you want to play. For example, you can configure the game to match specific structures like ‘Dealer must hit soft 17’ – a common rule variation in many Las Vegas casinos.

Video Poker
Play Vegas-style video poker on Kindle anytime, anywhere. Video Poker accurately simulates the Vegas-style video poker machine known as Jacks or Better. After making a bet, you will be dealt five cards. You select which of these five cards to hold, and redraw the rest to try to make the best poker hand possible. A hand with a pair of Jacks or better wins.

Descriptions provided by Amazon

I found these books via Amazon’s Kindle eBooks store. Resources for free Kindle and other format eBooks are listed in my sidebar.

These freebies are limited time offers, so there is no guarantee any of these books will still be free when you click on the links. Grab them sooner rather than later.

Eurovision First Semi-Finals Results

The wait is finally over and the first Eurovision semi-final competition has taken place. 18 countries competed for the coveted 10 spots that will continue the competition in the grand finale.

The entire show ran a little over two hours. After all 18 countries performed, there was a 15-minute voting period. Only the 18 countries represented, plus three of the predetermined finalist countries, could vote. Votes are phoned or texted in, and you cannot vote for your own country. During the voting, viewers were entertained by an Azerbaijan folk dance and music troupe. At the end of 15 minutes, voting ended and the results were announced live. Why isn’t American Idol like this? It’s so much better! And, yes, I do mean the Azerbaijan folk troupe. So much better than watching Ryan Seacrest blather on and on.

Here are the results. This is the order in which they were announced, but this doesn’t reflect the number of votes, which will remain unknown until the finals. Special thanks to Markku, again, for keeping me in the know.

  1. Romania
  2. Moldova
  3. Iceland
  4. Hungary
  5. Denmark
  6. Albania
  7. Cyprus
  8. Greece
  9. Russia
  10. Ireland

All three semi-finalists who were on my top 10 list made it through: Iceland, Denmark and Cyprus. I have to say, I was really impressed by the performances of Hungary and Romania and am glad they made it into the finals. Check ’em out:

Mandinga, representing Romania with the song, Zaleilah

She was having technical difficulties, but continued like a pro. This was a catchy, infectious number that I really enjoyed.

Compact Disco, representing Hungary with the song, Sound Of Our Hearts

I liked this so much better than their original video. Great performance, with lots of passion and power given to the lyrics.

My favorite performance of the evening, though was Iceland.

Greta Salóme & Jónsi, representing Iceland with the song, Never Forget

What a great performance. So dramatic and beautiful. Greta and Jonsi have much better chemistry here than their rehearsal video. I think this is a contender. If they can keep this up in the finals, I think they have a strong chance of winning.

Two more things to add. It turns out that rotating thing in the Russian Babushki’s original video is an oven. The grannies were “baking” what looks like cookies. Dang, they are adorable! And speaking of adorable, I have to admit that the Jedward twins were mighty cute when they celebrated winning the tenth spot by turning cartwheels down the aisles.

The second semi-finals will be streamed live on on May 24, 21:00 CET (Central Europe Time). That’s 1:00 p.m. in Colorado. You can also watch a repeat performance of the first semi-finals.

Eurovision First Semi-Finals

The first Eurovision semi-final competition is streaming live now. You can watch on