Category Archives: Fiction Books

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

Beth Cooper coverI bought the hardcover version of this book when it was a new release. Somebody I trusted suggested it, assuring me it’s my kind of thing. It’s currently upstairs on one of our shelves unread, dusty, and yellowing.

There’s no real reason for this, other than I buy ’em much faster than a read ’em. It’s still something I want to get to, eventually.

And now that I’ve bought a second copy for my Kindle, there’s a better chance of that actually happening. As I type this the novel is priced at $1.99, but who knows how long that will last? Amazon acts in mysterious ways. The Suggestaholic suggests you snag it without delay.

From the book’s description:

Denis Cooverman wanted to say something really important in his high school graduation speech. So, in front of his 512 classmates and their 3,000 relatives, he announced: “I love you, Beth Cooper.”  It would have been such a sweet, romantic moment. Except that Beth, the head cheerleader, has only the vaguest idea who Denis is. And Denis, the captain of the debate team, is so far out of her league he is barely even the same species. And then there’s Kevin, Beth’s remarkably large boyfriend, who’s in town on furlough from the United States Army. Complications ensue.

The Martian by Andy Weir

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:

Liars, Inc. by Paula Stokes

Liars Inc coverThis is the latest addition to my Kindle. I love the cover — it’s about as close to perfect as it gets.

It’s what drew my initial interest, to be truthful. But this review sealed the deal: Max is so well-drawn it’s hard not to be completely sympathetic to his predicament…the author twists and turns at all the right moments. Even the keenest mystery buffs will be hard-pressed to predict the book’s finale, which packs quite the emotional and physical punch. Captivating to the very end.

This is a “dark and twisted psychological tale that will keep readers guessing, ” according to the official description. It’s published by HarperCollins, and is ostensibly for young adults. But, at this point, that only means its main character is a teenager. Age of the reader means little. Modern YA novels should never be dismissed by adults.

And look at that cover! Is that not great? Somebody deserves a raise. Today’s price doesn’t hurt, either: $1.99 for Kindle. I’m looking forward to this one.

The Long And Faraway Gone by Lou Berney

faraway gone coverThis is the latest addition to my Kindle. I chose it for several reasons.

First, the description:  In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

Also, the testimonials: “The Long and Faraway Gone is that rare literary gem — a dark, quintessentially cool noir novel that is both deeply poignant, and very funny . . . as hip, hilarious, and entertaining as it is wrenching, beautiful, and ultimately redemptive.” (Huffington Post)

Then, there’s the big-time publisher (HarperCollins), and the crazy low price: $1.99.

All those things add up to a pretty safe bet, I think. I’m happy to have this one stored away and ready to go, for some future “I get to choose a new book to read!” day. Check it out, if you’re so inclined.

Ask The Dust by John Fante

Ask The Dust coverThis is a book I’ve heard about all my life, and have always meant to read. But, you know how it goes… It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia comes on, and the next thing you know it’s 2 am and you’re covered in the residue of a thousand Cheetos…

Published in 1939, Ask the Dust is a novel about a man living in a shitty resident hotel in 1930s Los Angeles, trying desperately to make it as a writer. The setting alone is enough to make me prick up my ears. Right? It’s very likely autobiographical, based on the real-life struggles of Fante himself. And it has quite the cult following. Robert Towne called it the greatest book ever written about Los Angeles.

Charles Bukowski contributed the introduction to this edition, and admittedly worshiped at the altar of John Fante. In fact, he helped rescue this book from obscurity during the late 1970s, when he convinced his publisher to reissue it.

I’m no expert — I only downloaded it myself fifteen minutes ago — but I’m confident in recommending this one. I’ve been hearing about its greatness since the 1980s. And it’s hard to go wrong at today’s Kindle price of $1.99.

Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box by Jack Icefloe Jackson

Icefloe coverIf there was ever a book that fell into the “not for everyone” category, this would be it. A gleefully over-the-top satire of romance novels, Pandora’s Box stars a deplorable human being known as Icefloe Jackson. Short, balding, and crass, Icefloe is every woman’s dream. He only uses four inches of his six-inch penis, because anything more might destroy a woman. He’s a super hero for the average man!

Here’s part of a reader review at Amazon: “OMG. Romance For Men: Pandora’s Box has to be the vilest, crudest, most wildly inappropriate piece of profane filth I’ve ever read. …That said, it’s also the funniest damn thing I’ve read in ages.”

Part of the official book description: Realizing that the end-of-the-world can only be averted by Icefloe’s superior sexual prowess, President Obama calls on him to use his penis to save us all. This carnal mission will take Icefloe from The Hot Nuns of Assisi (hidden beneath the Vatican by the Pope) to The Nazi Babes of the SS in their terrible lair on Fuhrer Island…

This thing is wild and filthy, and runs wide-open from the first page. It’s also written by Dean Lorey (under the Icefloe name) a screenwriter who has worked on Arrested Development, and a bunch of other TV shows and movies. You can see the many celebrity endorsements the book has garnered at Amazon. As I type this, the Kindle version is $2.99. If you like your humor uncut, and aren’t offended by every little thing, I heartily recommend this one.

 

Jaws by Peter Benchley

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.

The One That Got Away by Simon Wood

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 by Stephen King

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: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

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.