John Locke – First Independent Author to Join Kindle Million Club

Amazon Direct Publishing has enabled a lot of authors to get their writing voices out there.  One independent author who has published a number of thrillers over the past year, is John Locke.  Locke joins major authors such as Suzanne Collins and Stieg Larsson as the eighth member of the Kindle Million Club.

Locke describes how his successful marketing strategy in his book How I sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months! He does it in a clear and concise way.  One important thing that I took from his book is that if you want to sell books, magazines, or even blogs, you need to figure out your target audience.  If you can find a good niche, that’s a huge step.  Also, utilize social media tools such as Facebook or Twitter to actively reach out to fans.

With the exception of 1 Million Books, Locke’s books go for .99 each.  With a lot of bestselling ebooks going for $9,.99 or up, this is an amazing deal.

Saving Rachel is one of Locke’s top selling books and belongs to the Donovan Creed series.  This ebook sends the reader on quite the ride as killers give a man the choice between his wife and mistress.  Sam Case messes with the wrong people when he hides money from mobsters and terrorists like Donovan Creed.  The plot is pretty outrageous, but it is a matter of preference.

Speaking of outrageous, another one of Locke’s books, Wish List, certainly also falls into that category.  I cracked up at the main character’s name, Buddy Pancake.  Buddy and his friends start making crazy wishes from a Wish List website without really thinking about the consequences of those wishes.

On another note, Locke also wrote the Emmett Love Westerns.  These are set in mid nineteenth century Western United States.  Follow the Stone has met great success.  So, if you need a break from Locke’s thrillers or prefer westerns, these would be a good series.  You’ll find touching themes and great characters.

So, as you can see, it is very possible to have great success at publishing ebooks on Amazon.  This is great for those who would otherwise not get a shot with the major publishing houses, however, there needs to be more control over Kindle publishing so that all authors can get the merits they deserve and compete with the big names.





Kindle Edition of Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy

After taking a hiatus for a nearly a decade, Tom Clancy is back with his bestselling thriller, Dead or Alive.В  For the Kindle and Kindle DX edition, the reviews are almost all 5 stars.В  Clancy coauthored this book with Grant Blackwood, a former member of the navy who provides valuable insight into military operations.В  Many of the reviewers said that this novel is definitely worth the long wait.В  I think it is amazing that all thirteen of Clancyв_Ts novels have been #1 on the bestseller list.

Clancy brings back familiar characters in Dead or Alive. В Jack Ryan Jr. and his fellow coworkers from the Campus all work together to capture the Emir.В  The Emir masterminded some horrifying attacks on the West.В  Does Osama bin Laden and September 11th come to mind to anyone?

Letв_Ts take a look at what some of the reviewers have said about Dead or Alive:

A. Apter в__caro fanв__:

в__Moves at a hurtling streamlined pace dispensing all kinds of fireworks of curious information. The style is deadpan and lean, with none of the classic cumbersome Clancy paragraphs. Occasional features of “Red Rabbit Syndrome,” in which large volumes of pages are devoted to…nothing. What character development there is is so minimal as to defy any description at all. The violence so far is “off page.” A very interesting book for a lot of reasons.в__

Pastor Dan:

в__Clancy does a wonderful job of building up each character, adding some new characters, reviving old characters and just generally giving us many sup plots that run alongside the bigger plot. The book is long, but it takes that much time to address all of the people, all of the issues and build a credible story.в__

Richard Stoyeck в__StocksAtBottom.comв__:

в__Clancy puts us in the thick of it. We as readers are in the game. When Delta Force operators and Rangers go into the caves of Afghanistan we are with them. We breathe the odors; we hear the sounds, and we feel the tension. We find ourselves silencing our own voices because we don’t want the good guys to be caught, and that is classic Clancy.в__

Price Woes

As expected, there are some complaints about the high price on the Kindle version, which is understandable.В  When you consider the Kindle version versus the hardback, think of lugging around a 950 page book wherever you go.В  The Kindle should win out, at least for portability and comfortable long term reading.В  If the rave reviews are any indication, you are in for long term reading because this is a book that is too good to put down.

Robert Louis Stevenson – A Selection of Free Kindle Classics

The Kindle Store has a number of timeless classics available for free on the Kindle and Kindle DXTreasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is one of them.  It is an exciting tale of treachery and adventure for both children and adults.

Jim Hawkins is the official protagonist of the book.  He is a young boy who gets swept along on a pirate treasure hunt with Billy Bones, Long John Silver and several other interesting characters.  Long John Silver outshines everyone else in the story as he is involved with a group who plot to kill everyone on the ship and take the treasure themselves.

It has been awhile since I’ve read the book.  Since it is free for the Kindle and has such raving reviews, I think I need to sit down and read it again.

Many are familiar with Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but very few have actually read the book.  It is a quick read.  The Kindle edition is free.  Once you read it, you’ll find that there’s much more to the book than the dual personality comparison we all like to reference to.

Dr. Jekyll creates a potion that turns him into a different man.  This is Mr. Hyde.  The best way to describe him is “the devil on our shoulder.”  The story is told from the point of view of Mr. Utterson, a friend of Dr. Jekyll’s.  There is a lot of emotion and grief in this story, as well as a disturbing plot that takes many twists and turns.

One reviewer sums up the book’s theme well: “It’s a book on morality and what would happen if we gave in to every evil thought we ever had. The theme is timeless and so this book will remain a classic.”

A couple more books by Stevenson that are lesser known, but still excellent, are The Black Arrow and KidnappedThe Black Arrow is set during the War of the Roses.  Sixteen year old Dick Shelton is thrust in the middle of the war and forced to battle pirates, an evil priest and even Sir Daniel Brackley, his legal guardian.  His ultimate goals are to become a Knight and rescue his true love.  You’ll find an little bit of everything: action, mystery and romance all mixed into one book.

Kidnapped is another action packed novel that portrays a hero who outlasts treachery and deceit to claim his rightful inheritance.  This time, the hero is David Balfour. After his father’s death, he seeks to claim his inheritance from his evil uncle.  Balfour gets caught up in a number of crazy events including a murder mystery throughout his adventure.

Stevenson does an excellent job of portraying the language of the time: pirate vernacular, Middle age dialect and Scottish dialect.  If you have never used your Kindle’s look up tool, now’s your chance.

The Confession – Kindle Edition

I’ve read most of John Grisham’s novels.  His books lost their flavor for awhile, but it looks like he has made a come back with The Confession.  It is currently #1 on the Kindle and Kindle DX Top 100 list.

The Confession is a heart wrenching story of an innocent man put on death row for raping a high school cheerleader.  The real rapist watches the former football star take punishment without remorse.  This is, until he finds out he has a fatal brain tumor and decides to confess.  Either way he’s doomed to die so it no longer matters really if he dies at the hands of the legal system.  But the sad thing is, an innocent life was wasted away in prison because another person did not confess.  By writing in the perspective of the real rapist, it makes the situation even more poignant.

Reviews are good for the most part.  Grisham provides a good glimpse into the legal system and the death penalty.  Some reviewers say that this is one of his best.  Others say it is just a repeat of his other thrillers, and are tired of the same plot over and over.

Grisham’s novels all kind of run together after awhile, but there are a few that I remember quite well.  The Associate is the last one I’ve read, and that one had me holding my breath until the end.  It is about a young lawyer who is manipulated to the point of driving him insane.  Somehow he manages to escape, but barely.

Playing for Pizza is the story of a fallen football player named Rick Dockery.  He ends up in Italy playing for a football team called the Parma Panthers that has a miserable track record.  I didn’t know they had American football in Italy especially since soccer is such a huge sport in European countries. It is a story of victory for the underdog, as well as a glimpse into the Italian food and wine scene.

Skipping Christmas was a break from his usual legal thrillers and even had some funny parts.  It was about a family who decided not to celebrate Christmas.  That ended up being a much more difficult feat than they realized.  It is a cute, quick read.

John Sandford Thrillers – Kindle Edition

A friend recommended that I review John Sandford, writer of popular thrillers such as Bad Blood and Storm Prey.  This is good timing to write about thrillers with it being Halloween and all.  The hardback version of his latest books are almost three times as much as the Kindle version. So by going with the Kindle or Kindle DX version, you will be getting a really good deal.

Bad Blood is the fourth book that features Virgil Flowers, a Minnesota Criminal Bureau agent.  Bob Tripp “accidentally” murders Jacob Flood by hitting him in the head with a T-ball bat.  I cracked up when I read about that.  How can you get killed by a T-ball bat?  The plot twists when Virgil Flowers and Sheriff Lee Coakley, investigate the crime after Tripp is found hanging in his jail cell.  There is evidence of a romantic spark between Coakley and Flowers, but the primary focus of the book is the investigation.  They investigate Jim Crocker, the deputy on duty when Tripp kills himself.

The pair uncover a multitude of murders and sexual abuse cases that implicate both a strange church and within the police force.  Amazing how one simple murder case has led to a chain of much more sinister criminal activities.

The reviews of Bad Blood are great overall.  Many of the reviewers said that this is the best book in the Virgil Flowers series.  Other books in this series that are worth checking out are: Rough Country, Heat Lightning and Dark of the Moon.

Sandford’s Storm Prey features the investigation of a robbery turned murder that is investigated by Minnesota Bureau of Investigation Lucas Davenport.  A group of idiots try to rob a pharmacy so they can turn around and sell the drugs for a large sum.  The robbery turns into a murder when they accidentally kill the pharmacist. So, like Bad Blood, the bad guys are really dumb and the good guys have brains.

The plot also involves Lucas’s wife who at the time of the robbery was in the middle of operating on a set of conjoined twins.  The gang associated with the robbery attempt to take her life as well as their own members.

So Storm Prey has a similar “one simple murder case sets off a chain reaction” type plot that Bad Blood does.  One reviewer describes the Davenport series as “a marathon rather than a sprint.”  The series describes the investigation in detail without it being a “hold your breath, don’t know what’s next” type thing.  Virgil Flowers makes an appearance and there are referrals to the series’ earlier and much darker novels.

The reviews were good overall.  Some mentioned that Sandford’s book is a bit repetitive plot wise.  I guess this is a common occurrence with any author.  As you read more and more of their books, you can really see what structure they use.  That can come off as nice and familiar, or boring.

The Kindle version of Storm Prey is pretty expensive.  If you want something cheaper, check out his earlier novels in the Davenport series such as Wicked Prey or Invisible Prey.

Kindle Books on a Budget

If you look beyond the major, well known bestsellers, you will find a wide selection of free or inexpensive books for the Kindle and Kindle DX that are really good.  Many have outstanding reviews.  They are also great for a tight budget.

While browsing the Amazon Kindle Top 100 Free list, I came across Raising Jake, by Charlie Carillo. Raising Jake is a story about father-son bonding and is a nice break from the sea of sappy romance novels that seem to take over the whole Top 100 list.  Keep an eye on that list, there are often some really good books on there for a limited time.

Sammy Sullivan gets fired from his job at a New York tabloid, and his son Jake gets expelled from school all on the same day.  Sammy revisits his troublesome past, while Jake gets to know his family roots.

Allison Grambs sums up the novel very well:

“In the tradition of Tom Perotta, Carillo explores the strength of the family bond, the power of forgiveness, and the hope that comes from embracing second chances. . .truthful, and hilarious.”–Alison Grambs, author of The Smart Girls Guide to Getting Even

Carillo’s newest novel, One Hit Wonder was released today, and is a tale of lost love and missed opportunities.  Like Raising Jake, One Hit Wonder follows a middle aged man who must face past issues and grow up. After getting dumped by his girlfriend at 18, Mickey DeFalco wrote a love song that became a huge hit, but luck dwindles as the years pass.  DeFalco struggles to find a foothold in life and mows lawns for a living twenty years later.  His lost love resurfaces, uncovering lies and secrets that demonstrate how unpredictable life can be.

Karen McQuestion’s A Scattered Life is in the top 25 on the Kindle 100 list, and is only $2.99.  A Scattered Life is about the importance of family and friends.  Skyla Plinka, the lead character in the novel, learns how to let go of her tragic past, and embrace the present, as well as the the people who care for her.  The novel really gets into the heart of family issues.  McQuestion also wrote Life on Hold, the story of 15 year old Rae and her struggles with having to move constantly with her flaky mother.  McQuestion manages to take real life issues and provide us with a light, easy reading experience.

I even saw some books for less than two dollars in a variety of genres including romance, mystery and thrillers.  Happy reading!

Kindle Book Fall Preview

For the Fall, check out Amazon’s Fall Reading Preview in the Kindle Book Store.  Many of these books have upcoming release dates in the next few months.  It has a good selection of books to choose from. It also includes a list of recommendations based on your personal reading interests.

I’m excited that David Sedaris has a new book available.  It is called Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary.  This is a deviation from his usual autobiographical tales, but he still uses a lot of humor and the story still applies to real life situations despite non human characters.  If you aren’t familiar with David Sedaris, you should read Me Talk Pretty One Day, or his previous bestseller, When You Are Engulfed in Flames.  They both had me laughing out loud while reading them.

Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom is on the list and is a popular new novel, however the reviews are all over the place for it.  Oprah just selected it as part of her book club.  It is an intense book that touches on issues such as marriage, infidelity, depression and teenage angst and how the characters deal with them.

If you are looking for a good thriller, you’ll find new titles by familiar authors such as Michael Connelly, David Baldacci and Janet Evanovich.  Baldacci’s Hell’s Corner is a new installment of the Oliver Stone and Camel Club series.  It is set in Washington DC near the White House.  Oliver Stone takes on a high profile case that involves an attack against major world leaders.

Nicholas Sparks came out with a new novel, Safe Haven, on September 14.  Unlike his previous sappy love story themed novels, this book has an element of danger.  So that adds a twist that might bring readers back who are bored with his overused romantic plotline.  I had lost interest in Nicholas Sparks until his novel The Last Song came out last year.  It includes a love story, but that was not the focus of the novel.  The focus was the relationship between an angry teenage girl and her estranged father and it turns out to be a very moving story.  The movie based on The Last Song was good as well.

So that is just a brief glimpse of what to look forward to this Fall.  Time to stock up on the fireside reading material for the upcoming chilly nights!