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Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert, Monday, February 28: 7 Brand New Additions to Our 200+ Free Contemporary Titles on Kindle! plus … Steve Silkin’s The Forbidden Stories Provide 5-Star Reading for Just $1.99 (Today’s Sponsor)

This morning’s latest additions to our 200+ Free Book Alert listings cover a wide range of interests from crockpot recipes to social media and marketing innovations….

But first, a word from … Today’s Sponsor

A straight 5-star rating for this short story collection the author calls, “Eros and Thanatos. Stories of sex and death“…

“These are great stories. Really enjoyed them. Transgressive, odd, some straight ahead, some dreamlike and surreal. Highly unusual and original.”
–Daniel Loeb

The Forbidden Stories
by Steve Silkin
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Reviews
Kindle Price: $1.99
Text-to-Speech: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

Forbidden, yes, but read it anyway!”

Here’s the set-up via reviewer Gabriela Popa
Forbidden Stories is a collection of vivid, expertly crafted fiction stories spanning a wide range of events (growing up as a kid in Los Angeles, traveling to Europe, living in France) told with passion, nostalgia and – some of them – a relaxed wisdom that borders a zen-like attitude… Anyone who wants to explore the human condition will appreciate the multilayered “Green Parrot at My Window” – a complex story about death and the inextricable EXIT sign that awaits us all. A tangled criss-cross of relationships develops in “The Cake Girl”, “Euro-Looting” and “La Hongroise”- stories in which the author, part mastermind and part subject, keeps a keen eye on what’s happening around him while himself progressing as a character along the story.

Yet for all their significant metaphorical content and multidimensional messages, these stories are charmingly accessible and captivating and speak about the universal value of human relationships. This is a great collection of stories – and a must for literature lovers.”

And don’t miss Steve Silkin’s novel….

Did you love L.A. Confidential? Boogie Nights? The Candidate? Pulp Fiction? Weave them all together into a smart, edgy, fast-paced political thriller that you can read right on your Kindle for less than two bucks, and you’ve got Steven Silkin’s The Cemetery Vote.

by Steve Silkin
5.0 out of 5 stars – 4 Reviews
Text-to-Speech: Enabled

Jace Kingman, a drug dealer, is recruited to round up Latino day laborers and take them to the polls on Election Day. Dan Vienna, a fired police officer on the road to become an Internet porn producer, tries to extort a million dollars from a losing candidate for U.S. Senate by claiming he can prove the election was stolen. Jace and Dan will cross paths as both schemes go awry. Can they save themselves? Or will they destroy each other?
The Cemetery Vote takes you on a roller-coaster ride over a landscape of ballot-box stuffing, Internet porn production and drug trafficking, plus a love story – or rather two or three or four of them. Featuring iconoclastic twins, an ex-con philosopher and an X-rated actress who’s more than she appears. It’s a political thriller with philosophical underpinnings….

What the Reviewers Say
“These stories, forbidden or not, are written in prose so clear it’s nearly transparent, allowing you to see all the way to the deep sense of loss that lies like muck at the bottom. Maybe that’s why they’re forbidden; the current’s strong, and you can’t tell how deep the water is. Still, each piece is laced with enough humor and insight to keep them from feeling like they’re going to pull you under. I’ve enjoyed Silkin’s other books but this one’s my favorite, and not just because I have a crush on Cake Girl.”
–R. Toady

“After reading Silkin’s “The Cemetery Vote” I couldn’t wait to sample more from this perceptive talent. I’ve read all his books now, but this one was my favorite. With “Forbidden Stories” Silkin has taken that forbidden step into the dark recesses of human relationships, and this is something that most of us dare not do. What makes this collection of stories so disconcerting is that they resound with the clear ring of truth.
–Gregory J. Barina

“Steve Silkin’s growing list of titles–which also includes Telescope Builder and Cemetery Vote–is bolstered by this latest collection of stories, some autobiographical, some semi-autobiographical, and a few completely imagined, set mostly in Europe and the far reaches of the LA suburbs in the days before the freeways were even finished. Written without any pretense (think of Hemingway or Fitzgerald wandering the San Fernando Valley), the tales exhibit Silkin’s overriding desire to communicate many things–among them feelings of sadness and loss, with some youthful jubilation occasionally peeking through. If you’re looking for a well-written title with pathos, humor and other actual, human emotions, step away from the James Franco…and buy or download Forbidden Stories instead.”
–Book Guy

Click here to download The Forbidden Stories (or a free sample) to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android-compatible, PC or Mac and start reading within 60 seconds!

UK CUSTOMERS: Click on the title below to download
Each day’s list is sponsored by one paid title. We encourage you to support our sponsors and thank you for considering them.
Authors, Publishers, iPad Accessory Manufacturers:
Interested in learning more about sponsorship? Just click on this link for more information.

Free Contemporary Titles in the Kindle Store

Just use the slider at right of your screen below to scroll through a complete, updated list of free contemporary Kindle titles, and click on an icon like this one (at right) to read a free sample right here in your browser! Titles are sorted in reverse chronological order so you can easily see new freebies.

Chick Lit With Heart and a Southern Flair: Our KND eBook of the Day, L.C. Evans’ We Interrupt This Date is Steel Magnolias with Chihuahuas, Attitude, and an “Androgynous Little Tart” – Just 99 cents!

Sweetly written from the heart, L.C. Evans’ We Interrupt This Date is a tale of love, family, and one woman’s redemption as she tries to take back control over her own life – by taking a “time out” from her freeloading family. And it is just 99 cents on Kindle! 

Here’s the set-up for L.C. Evans’ We Interrupt This Date:

Since her divorce a year ago, Susan Caraway has gone through the motions of life. Now she is finally coming out of her shell. Just when she decides on a makeover and a new career, her family members decide she’s crisis central. 

First there’s her sister DeLorean, who has come back from California with a baby, a designer dog, and no prospects for child support or a job. As soon as DeLorean settles in at Susan’s home, Susan’s son Christian returns from college trailing what Susan’s mama refers to as “an androgynous little tart.” 

Then there’s Mama herself, a Southern lady who wrote the book on bossy. A secret from Mama’s past threatens to unravel her own peace. But not before Mama hurts her ankle and has to move into Susan’s home with her babies—two Chihuahuas with attitude. 

Susan would like to start her new job as a ghost tour operator. She would like to renew her relationship with Jack Maxwell, a man from her past. But Jack isn’t going to stand in line behind her needy family.

L.C. Evans currently lives in North Carolina with her husband Bob, their three or four Chihuahuas, and grandson, the Boy. Taking on the care and feeding of the Boy has made her a born again soccer mom, who suffers from occasional bewilderment over what kids like these days. When not wrangling the Chihuahuas and the Boy, she writes novels.  
From the Reviews:

I think anybody who is from the South, or knows an old fashioned southern family, will especially love this book. That being said if you’re not from the south you still need to read this book as a wonderful opportunity to learn, laugh, and cry. 

LC Evans’ writing style is hilarious and I found myself laughing out loud at least once in every chapter.

We Interrupt This Date is a tale of love, family, and one woman’s redemption as she tries to take back control over her own life – by taking a “Time out” from her free-loading family

This book was a perfect balance of humor, friendship, family, love and southern sweetness! Even the characters you want to choke you end up loving in the end.

I loved the Charleston location and humorous depiction of Southern family life, complete with Mama.

Sweetly written with heart. 

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample:

Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert, Sunday, February 27: 3 Brand New Freebie Novels top our list over over 200 Free Contemporary Titles! plus … Noir meets the Novel in Jeff Sherratt’s gem of a mystery, Detour to Murder (Today’s Sponsor)

A World War I romance, an interesting case of “Medical meets Inspirational,” and something rather different from the creator of the “Left Behind” series top this morning’s latest additions to our 200+ Free Book Alert listings….

But first, a word from … Today’s Sponsor

“Jeff Sherratt has created a gem of a book [with] a completely new spin on a classic movie. This book will blow your mind!”

Detour to Murder (A Film Noir Mystery) 
(Jimmy O’Brien Mystery Novels) 
by Jeff Sherratt
5.0 out of 5 stars   6 Reviews
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

Great Noir Mystery Novel”

Why did Roberts give a false confession? And why has he waited 29 years to tell the truth? In this Five-Star noir mystery, Jimmy O’Brien digs into the past, igniting a powder-keg that threatens to expose the long-held secrets behind Detour, the iconic Hollywood film documenting Roberts’ story…

Here’s the set-up: 

In 1945, the semi-nude body of a woman is found in a two-bit Hollywood motel, a telephone cord wrapped around her throat; face frozen in a grimace of horror. The stolen car of a murdered motorist is parked in the motel parking lot, the owner lying broken and dead on the side of an Arizona highway. Al Roberts confesses and has spent the last 29 years in prison. Now, nearly three decades after meekly confessing, the aged Roberts swears his innocence. 

Jimmy O’Brien, defense attorney to the dregs of the criminal world, must find out why. Why did Roberts give a false confession? And why has he waited 29 years to tell the truth? O’Brien digs into the past, igniting a powder-keg that threatens to expose the long-held secrets behind Detour, the iconic Hollywood film documenting Roberts’ story. Secrets that could destroy the underground aristocracy that has held power in Los Angeles, city of broken dreams, for years. Jimmy’s ordeal takes him from the bleakness of Roberts’ prison cell to the seedy streets of Hollywood, frantically searching to find out who took this DETOUR TO MURDER.

What the Reviewers Say
“If you like noir mystery, or if you don’t know if you like noir mystery, you must read Detour to Murder, by Jeff Sherratt. Heck, if you just like mysteries, read this book.

The book picks up where the movie Detour, a film noir classic, leaves off. In the movie, a man named Al Roberts follows the woman he loves to Hollywood after she jilts him to seek a movie career. Two people die along the way, and Roberts is ultimately arrested for murder. .. My favorite thing about Detour to Murder is the trip into old Hollywood from the 40’s through the 70’s. It puts you right in the mix of it all, with all its glamour and deceit. In addition, the characters are interesting, the plot is fun, and the twists keep cropping up. And even if you do figure out “whodunit,” I bet you won’t know why until the very end.”
–Teresa M. Burrell

“Love the way it blends the awesome feel of film noir with a mystery novel. Jeff is a great writer and really knows to how to drive up suspense.”
–Daniel Pearson

“Love the way it blends the awesome feel of film noir with a mystery novel. Jeff is a great writer and really knows to how to drive up suspense.”
–Ann Onimuss

About the Author
Jeff Sherratt is the author of the acclaimed Jimmy O’Brien mystery series. His newest book, DETOUR TO MURDER (2010), is published by ZOVA Books and is the first in the Jimmy O’Brien film noir mystery series. Jimmy O’Brien’s latest exploits are chronicled in EXPECTATION TO MURDER (2010), an exclusive e-book released on July 5, 2010.

Soon after its release, his first novel, THE BRIMSTONE MURDERSGUILTY OR ELSE (2009) was nominated for the Left Coast Crime Panik Award. Jeff has written nonfiction articles for corporate newsletters and his short stores have been published in H2O Magazine and the anthology, THE HEAT OF THE MOMENT. He is a past board member of Sisters in Crime/LA, and currently a member of Mystery Writers of America. (2008) became the bestselling book of all time For Echelon Press. The second,

Jeff has been a speaker at many book events including libraries, various California prisons, and he was the guest speaker at the prestigious Southern California Writers Conference. He is currently working on his fourth Jimmy O’Brien novel, CYANIDE PERFUME. Jeff lives in Newport Beach, California with his wife, Judy.

Click here to download Detour to Murder (A Film Noir Mystery) (Jimmy O’Brien Mystery Novels) (or a free sample) to your Kindle, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, BlackBerry, Android-compatible, PC or Mac and start reading within 60 seconds!

UK CUSTOMERS: Click on the title below to download
Each day’s list is sponsored by one paid title. We encourage you to support our sponsors and thank you for considering them.
Authors, Publishers, iPad Accessory Manufacturers:
Interested in learning more about sponsorship? Just click on this link for more information.

Free Contemporary Titles in the Kindle Store 

Just use the slider at right of your screen below to scroll through a complete, updated list of free contemporary Kindle titles, and click on an icon like this one (at right) to read a free sample right here in your browser! Titles are sorted in reverse chronological order so you can easily see new freebies.

Coming in March! A Touch of Revenge, a Lendable eBook Borrower’s Book, and Kindle Free for All in Paperback

By Steve Windwalker

We’re happy to share news here of a couple of new titles that will be coming out in March, and one that has just come out.

A Touch of Revenge. First, we mentioned the other day that Kindle Nation fave Gary Ponzo has completed work on an exciting sequel to his very popular Nick Bracco page-turner A Touch of Deceit. The sequel, entitled A Touch of Revenge, is due about March 31, and has already been featured with a sneak Free Kindle Nation Shorts preview. If you’d like to receive a quick email heads-up with a note from Mr. Ponzo when the sequel is available for purchase and download from the Kindle Store, just send an email — it can be blank, or not, it’s up to you — to KindleNation+touch2@gmail.com, and we’ll let you know!

A Book Borrower’s Book. Second, I’ve been having some fun lately collaborating with Martin Higgins on a short ebook about how to get the most out of the new Kindle lending feature, and it should be out in March as well. Martin brings a lot to the table on this project, since he and his wife Catherine MacDonald are co-founders of the phenomenally popular and user-friendly BookLending.com website (formerly the Kindle Lending Club.) Neither Martin nor I is any Gary Ponzo, but we’ve had so many responses to the email offer regarding A Touch of Revenge that we will do the same with this new book — it’s untitled as yet, but think”How to Lend and Borrow Kindle Books for Fun and Savings,” and it will be priced no higher than 99 cents. If you’d like to receive a quick email heads-up when How to Lend and Borrow Kindle Books for Fun and Savings is available for purchase and download from the Kindle Store, just send an email — it can be blank, or not, it’s up to you — to KindleNation+BLC@gmail.com, and we’ll let you know! (And yes, just in case you are wondering, this book will be lendable.)

Kindle Free for All in Paperback. Okay, this is deeply counter-intuitive, but one thing that happens each time I bring out the Kindle edition of a book about the Kindle is that readers — and these are almost universally Kindle owners, I am pretty certain — write to me and ask when the paperback will be out. And since it is very inexpensive and risk-free these days to publish a paperback, I have tried to co-operate, even though initially I kind of expected the paperback versions to sell a grand total of about two dozen copies, most of them to blood relatives. I was wrong. The paperback version of my Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 guides have now sold over 15,000 copies, and people tell me that they enjoy following along with the paperback as they try things out on their Kindles. Okay, cool, then. So I have just brought out a paperback version of KINDLE FREE FOR ALL: How to Get Millions of Free Kindle Books and Other Free Content With or Without an Amazon Kindle, which came out in an ebook edition in December and has already sold over 10,000 copies. I priced the 172-page paperback at the lowest possible price that I could set and still get retailers to carry it: $7.99. Indie author and publishing whiz April Hamilton, who is going to end up being a very important part of Kindle Nation’s future if she doesn’t watch out, has done a gorgeous job on the paperback formatting just as she did on the Kindle edition, and she has also created a very nice accompanying page of all the links included on the book — let’s call it the Kindle Free for All Links Page and you’ll find it at http://www.kindlenationdaily.com/KindleFreeForAll.html or http://bit.ly/FFA-links — which I am hopeful will be the second thing that readers try immediately after tapping on a page in the paperback. This won’t be for everyone, but if it works for you, there it is!

Free Kindle Nation Shorts — February 27, 2011: An Excerpt from Madeline Mann, a novel by Julia Buckley

“Madeline’s zany family and humorous narrative make this series debut a pleasurable cozy read … definitely a writer to watch.”

     —The Library Journal

By Stephen Windwalker
Editor, Kindle Nation Daily
©Kindle Nation Daily 2011

Kindle Nation readers, do you have any idea how important you are to emerging authors?

Several times a month some of the best indie authors publishing on the Kindle platform share generous excerpts of their work here through the Free Kindle Nation Shorts program, and they are counting on you, and on our small staff here at Kindle Nation, to help separate work of distinction from the vast rest of it.

So far, it is working. We’ve seen Free Kindle Nation Shorts authors whose books have moved into the top 100 in the Kindle Store, and others who have signed contracts with AmazonEncore and other publishers, and others for whom entire series have caught fire. Just a couple of weeks ago one of the very first authors to be featured in this program received a rave review in the Sunday New York Times Book Review for her newly released novel. But the proof is always in the pudding, and in the few cases where you our readers have stamped “mediocre” on one of our selections, it has tended to fall where it belonged in the first place, by the wayside.

That won’t be the case this week, because we’ve got an emerging star in the house.

I’m especially pleased and confident this evening to share a generous excerpt from the debut novel in Julia Buckley’s Madeline Mann Mysteries, entitled, appropriately enough, Madeline Mann. If you’re a fan of suspense from the woman’s angle, I believe you’ll love … wait for it … “the Madman.”


by Julia Buckley
Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.  
UK CUSTOMERS: Click on the title below to download
“bright debut” –Kirkus Reviews


Here’s the set-up:    
Madeline Mann is a small town reporter whom nobody takes seriously until her old high school friend disappears; when Maddy begins her search for Logan Lanford, everyone takes notice.
This might be because just about everyone is a suspect in Logan’s disappearance, from his neglected wife to the shady mayor to Logan’s jealous brother. Even Madeline’s boyfriend seems to harbor some resentment toward the AWOL Logan and his reputation as a philanderer.
In searching for her old friend, Madeline is also searching for vindication of her career choice and a chance to be independent from a family that threatens to drive her crazy.
What the Reviewers Say  
“In her bright debut, Maddy is a welcome addition to the cozy scene.”
–Kirkus Reviews
“An intriguing debut in an engaging, fresh new series. Make mine Madeline Mann!”
–Julia Spencer-Fleming, author of I Shall Not Want
“This tightly plotted mystery is a fast-paced exhilarating ride, and investigative reporter Madeline Mann is by far the best female lead to come along since Stephanie Plum. A cool, clever, funny read, and the beginning of an absolutely delightful series. Julia Buckley rocks.”
–Anne Frasier, bestselling author of Hush and Pale Immortal
“Madeline Mann is an absolute delight. Oh, that all murder mys-teries could be so much fun to solve. I love Buckley’s flawless style; her small town American settings are perfect, and her characters are so real it wouldn’t surprise me to discover one of the brothers rummaging in my refrigerator. Julia Buckley has a winner here-charming, intelligent, and exciting. More ‘Mad-man,’ please-and soon!”
-Robert Fate, author of the Baby Shark series
“Reporter Madeline ‘Madman’ Mann is a great character: smart, warm, witty, and just wacky enough for spice. I hope this is the beginning of many, many Madman books to come.”
–Barbara D’Amato, author of the Cat Marsala Mysteries
excerptFree Kindle Nation Shorts – February 27, 2011
An Excerpt from
Madeline Mann
A Novel  by Julia Buckley 
Copyright © 2011 by Madeline Mann and published here with her permission
For my brothers and sisters:  
Bill, Claudia, Christopher, and Linda.
You have helped me know the warmth of family;
as a result, Madeline knows it too.  
       My capricious episodes have made me notorious in my family. Often unexpected, even by me, they are whimsical impulses I sometimes feel compelled to follow. Often my motivation is clear–as in the doll-head-shaving incident when I was seven, prompted by my older brother’s comment that my Beautiful Chrissy was “too girlie”–but sometimes the notion is a bit more mysterious, like the infamous wild ride I took in my father’s gray Celebrity when I was seventeen. I’d been a sedate driver previous to the incident and ever since, but on this afternoon some demon caused me to rocket down Alder, Webley’s quietest side street. I shot past a playground, glimpsed the pale, shocked faces of an elderly hand-holding couple in matching sweat suits, and set some aged doggies to barking. Despite some passionate last-minute braking, I rear-ended a newly minted Mr. Whippy ice cream truck and consequently alienated my father for a full month.
 These sorts of occurrences earned me a nickname from both of my brothers: Madman. It wasn’t a clever creation on their part, since it’s merely an ironic combination of my first and last names, Madeline Mann, but I have a feeling Madman would have become my nickname even if I’d been christened Jill Smith. Though I’m basically a quiet, thoughtful person, I can sometimes be ruled by my impulses–based upon what I like to call the “floating vibes” I feel in a given situation. Sometimes I need to take vibe-restoring action. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a certain rightness about it within me. It’s the only way to begin this story, I’ve decided, because I never would have become involved in a murder investigation if I hadn’t, in fact, been mutinously reacting to something else.
 A case in point is my hair. Jack, my upstairs neighbor for two years and my boyfriend for one, loved my brunette locks; they were fairly thick and smooth and hung straight and simple to my shoulders. When Jack and I had our first big argument one autumn night and I stormed out of his apartment and flew down the stairs to mine (we lived in the same three-flat), I was definitely in one of those unstable moods. I felt it was over, and I felt it was Jack’s fault. I was miserable but furious.
 Who knows where wacky ideas come from? I simply had one. I took out my barber’s shears and carefully cut off two or three inches of my hair. I ran out to the drugstore and bought L’Oreal Preference blonde dye–“Because I’m worth it,” I murmured throatily to myself in the store aisle. I hurried home and applied the smelly stuff without further thought. I had to let it sit for forty-five minutes, during which time I played Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Ten Years Together CD and sang along with every song while I perused a Cat Fancy magazine. (I don’t have cats, but I fancy them. My landlord doesn’t.)
 I took a shower, rinsed out the dye, and pampered myself with some scented powder before slipping into my favorite jeans and a gray T-shirt with Shakespeare’s face on it. I flopped into my papasan chair and considered the reading material on the steamer trunk that was my coffee table. My brother had lent me a biography of Howard Hughes and I had a Nora Roberts book from the library. Not in the mood for either, I decided. My life needed a little mystery. I opted for an Agatha Christie off the shelf above me. Eventually, three chapters into What Mrs. McGillicuddy Saw!, I wandered back into the bathroom to take a look at what I’d done.
 I was expecting the worst. I’d burned myself on numerous occasions–the bad perms, the “no Novocain” decision, the jalape-o eaten on a dare, the downright loony choice of watching my cousin’s colicky six-month-old for a weekend–I could go on. To my amazement, I liked what I saw in the bathroom mirror. Not only did I look perky as a blonde, I looked like I’d been born a blonde. I have green eyes and pale skin, and I’d serendipitously chosen a shade that accentuated them.
 Jack had told me on more than one occasion that I was beautiful; my mother had told me that I had “good German bones.” Now, for a moment, I thought I could see what they meant. I fancied that I looked like a sort of poor man’s Elke Sommer. I pouted in front of the glass like a ferocious supermodel until I was quite sick of myself; then I decided to prowl around the building in hopes of a purposely accidental meeting with my brand-new ex, Jack.
 I found him in the tiny laundry room, a small addition Mr. Altschul had built on the back of the ground floor of his large Victorian house (now three apartments accommodating the aforementioned German landlord, attractive ex-lover, and newly blonde me). Jack was stuffing all his clothes into the washer, darks and lights alike. He was obviously still angry about our fight, because he was jamming things in with extra force, as though his clothes offended him. I stepped casually into the room, ostensibly to check for an unused washing machine. Jack took one look at me and his hands flew to his stomach and one knee came up, as though I’d hurled a softball into his abdomen.
 “What did you do to your hair?” he gasped.
 “Isn’t it obvious?” I asked, curling a blonde strand behind my ear.
 “Are you nuts?”
 “Is the washer available?”
 “For God’s sake, you couldn’t just talk it out with me? You had to go and turn yourself into someone else?”
 “I like it. Don’t you like it?” I think my tone made clear that I wouldn’t be happy with anything but an affirmative response.
 We faced each other, our unresolved argument still sitting like an iceberg between us. Since the crux of it was Jack’s tendency to control me, his protest against my hair color choice was not, I thought, the wisest response.
 He finished shoving his clothes into the washer, hastily sprinkled some Tide over them, shut the lid, and cranked the knob with energy. I had always admired Jack’s athleticism, being rather sedentary myself; even now I could appreciate his well-shaped, tanned forearms as they strong-armed the coin slot. He turned to face me, trying to keep his emotions in check.
 “Okay, I don’t know what you want, Maddy, but I don’t think you do either.”
 “You’ve decided that for me?”
 “Stop it.”
 “Are you going to acknowledge that I’m an adult woman who can make her own decisions?”
 “I never doubted it.” He folded his arms defensively in front of his chest. He was wearing a solid black T-shirt and some old gray jogging shorts. I felt a pang of sadness, because I used to borrow the outfit.
 “You opened my mail, Jack.”
 “It was a second notice–“
 “It was my second notice!” I heard my voice shrilling, and I toned it down. “If I got a hundred notices, it wouldn’t change the fact that they were addressed to me!”
 Jack ran a hand through his wavy brown hair. He looked around the laundry room as though hunting for inspiration among the detergent and clothespins. I felt for him. In the year we’d been together, arguments had been rare, and always resolved. This one, to his surprise, wasn’t going away.
 Jack sighed and shrugged. “I’m sorry I made you angry. But I’ve got to tell you, Maddy, if I thought I was doing something wrong, I wouldn’t have done it. I mean, if you don’t know me by nowÉ”
 He let the sentence hang there. We faced each other like duelists.
 “I guess I feel married to you,” he continued. “I don’t think it’s a big deal for a husband to open his wife’s mail. I feel like a husband. We love each other, we sleep together, we’re monogamous, we practically live together–“
 “In separate apartments.”
 “Only because you want it that way. So we both have some control here, don’t we, Madeline?”
 I took a deep breath and made myself unclench my fists. “I’ve got to be up early tomorrow to do some work, so I’m going to bed now. I suggest you steer clear of me unless you are willing to address the actual issue. This isn’t about love or marriage or which bed I choose to sleep in. This is about acknowledging my autonomy and my rights, just as you would for a male best friend who was your roommate.”
 His jaw dropped. “Are you calling me sexist?”
 “If the narrow shoe fits,” I yelled over my shoulder as I stomped out of the room.
 I caught a glimpse of Mr. Altschul’s nose as he pulled it back into his apartment, and felt a blush of shame. We had turned this into One Life to Live in a matter of hours. I doubted our landlord would request our departure, since he was obviously thrilled by the fireworks, but I felt shame nonetheless. Aside from my aforementioned erratic moments, which were relatively rare, I was a reasonable, even reserved person. My brothers, Fritz and Gerhard, called this trait “the Too-Teutonic Reserve,” since they saw it as a hereditary flaw passed down by my German-immigrant parents–one that prevented meine Bruder from bonding with numerous women. My brothers liked Jack very much. They weren’t going to be thrilled by my news of a breakup, especially since they thought everything I did was irrational. They thought I chose to date Jack, a rare family-sanctioned decision, because they were there when we met and they helped to influence the outcome–about which they were, of course, wrong.
 It was the guitar that made me fall in love with him. He’d been playing it on the day I moved in. (My mother had won me the apartment by chatting with Mr. Altschul in German.) I was sitting, exhausted, on top of a packing box and eating ice cream with my sweaty siblings, who had hauled in all of the heavy stuff. Suddenly, a melody wafted through the window, unmistakably played on a guitar and pretty certainly coming from the apartment above. Then a voice began singing, as though my own troubadour had come  
to woo me at my window. I wondered vaguely if the singer was a professional.
 “What’s that?” asked Fritz, two years my junior, distracted for a moment from his double scoop cone, his fox-like face alert, his red mustache dripping.
 “A guitar, brain,” answered Gerhard, two years my elder, still studying his ice cream sandwich’s label, his dark brows furrowed above his handsome face.
 “The song, I mean.” Fritz shoved what remained of his cone in his mouth and then, in an awesome feat, continued to speak: “The awhtist.”
 “Gordon Lightfoot,” I ventured. He was playing “That’s What You Get for Lovin’ Me.”
 “It’s acoustic,” Fritz sneered.
 “That’s right. We forgot you don’t like instruments that can’t be plugged in,” Gerhard quipped.
 “Or musicians who play more than one chord progression over and over,” I added spitefully, referring to Fritz’s garage band, the Grinning Bishops, who had once practiced in my parents’ garage but had mercifully moved their act to his friend Chuck’s basement. Apparently things were different now, though, because Fritz actually made more money some weeks with the band than he did working as a manager at Barnes and Noble. In any case, our family tended to remember those appalling years, the discordant notes and loud feedback still echoing in our nightmares.
 Some kids grow out of that nasty argumentative phase, but my brothers and I still argue–I think, sometimes, it’s to express our closeness. We feel we have the right to be sarcastic because we’re family. We don’t strike each other or fling things, but we have potentially cruel tongues.
 Still, it was my brothers I went upstairs and called now. They share an apartment, so they were able to yell at me on two extensions.
 “Wait until Mom hears this,” Fritz threatened. “She’s gonna have a nutty. She was crocheting some sort of little bag for your wedding.”
 “Shut up, Fritz, that’s a secret,” boomed Gerhard in my ear.
 “Well, it doesn’t matter now, does it? She dumped him.” The two of them began an argument of their own, and it comforted me briefly, until I heard Jack playing his guitar upstairs. He knew I could hear him; I’d confided that to him long ago. I could even hear lyrics when my window was open, which it was now. Jack was playing “Devil Woman.” Real subtle.
 “We weren’t even engaged,” I protested.
 “It doesn’t matter, Madman. He’s the one she wants you to marry. Everyone does. He’s not a total loser, like some we could name, so of course you had to break up with him.” Fritz, as usual, opted for criticism over compassion.
 Gerhard was gentler, by a hair. “Really, Madman, we did like him. I have to wonder if the problem isn’t just something you’re manufacturing, maybe for a little drama?”
 “Okay, I’m hanging up now!” I yelled just before I slammed down the receiver.
 I rubbed at my eyes. There was no one who was going to be on my side here, except maybe good ol’ Gloria Steinem, and I didn’t think she’d be returning my e-mails, or voice mails, or whatever kind of mails I might send her.
 This was where Fate intervened. Jack had switched to something more melancholy; it sounded like some sort of sea chantey. I imagine he thought it would send me running up there in a diaphanous gown, seeking a night of passion in his bed. In his defense, I suppose it had happened before. I’m only human, and I do love the guitar. However, despite the sound of the lonely sailor above me, I remained on my couch, and I was back into Agatha Christie and Mrs. McGillicuddy when the phone rang. It was Fritz. He’d forgotten to tell me, in his anger, that Logan Lanford had disappeared. Naturally, Fritz was holding me personally responsible.
     The following morning I walked briskly out the door, appreciatively sniffing the autumn-scented air, my mind still on Logan Lanford. Logan and I had gone to high school together, and it was I who had recommended Logan for Fritz’s band. Logan was a great musician, and I’d been concerned about him since he’d gotten fired from his public-relations job at the town hall a couple of months before. My mom worked part-time for the mayor, and I tried to pump her for information about Logan’s termination, but she merely shrugged and said that Mayor Paul had his reasons. Logan had a wife and two kids to support, so I mentioned to Fritz that Logan played bass. Fritz needed a bass player, and it seemed like the obvious solution.
 I was still thinking about this, and about Fritz’s incoherent ramblings about Logan’s disappearance, when I spied Jack tinkering under the hood of my car. I was tempted to yell something, but I decided instead to catch him in the act. Furtively, catlike, I moved toward him, trying to stay in the cool shadow of the building. He must have seen me out of the corner of an eye, because he let the hood slam shut, which brought Mr. Altschul to the window with surprising speed, considering the arthritis and the lack of knee cartilage. Our landlord lingered at his ground-level window, ostensibly as a noise hunter, but quite obviously as an eavesdropper.
 He had to be standing on a chair.
 Jack looked ready to hare off in the other direction, but I was quick.
 “What are you doing under my hood?”
 “Checking your oil.” He was a bold one. He wore a look of complete indifference.
 “What gave you the–who do you think–this is just so unbelievably–“
 “You never check it, Madeline. Just because you’re mad at me doesn’t mean I’m going to stop caring about your safety.”
 “Good timing, Jack. You couldn’t even wait a day before you displayed still another controlling behavior. I’m tempted to call the police. Really. You’ve committed a crime.”
 That got his goat. “All right. Call the police. Tell them I checked your oil–which is fine, by the way–and gave you new wiper blades and filled your windshield reservoir. Tell them you’re my recently ex girlfriend, and some old habits die hard!” Jack was the kind of guy who didn’t get loud when he got angry, but he did develop some facial twitches. His one dimple would appear, just as it did when he was happy or mischievous. I stared at his dimple, too upset to meet his slate blue eyes.
 He cleared his throat. “Besides. Technically, I didn’t ‘break into’ your car–you left it unlocked again.” He shrugged, as though my carelessness cleansed him of all responsibility.
 I lowered my voice, aware of the long, curious nose in the window behind me. “This is what we’re fighting about, Jack: not because you’re not a good person or I don’t love certain things about you, but because you have this pathological need to control my life!”
 “A lot of people would be grateful–“
 “That’s not the point. All you had to do was come to me and offer, as a friend. I might have said yes, thank you, how nice of you. But you didn’t, and I’ll tell you why. Because you didn’t want to give me the option of saying no. Right, Jack?”
 I had the brief satisfaction of seeing him squirm. “I didn’t mean to make you upset, Maddy. I just wanted–I felt–“
 “You love her!” yelled Mr. Altschul, impatient with our labored conversation. “Mein Gott!” He slammed his window in despair, sending some very offended birds shrieking away.
 We stood in silence for a moment, and then we began to laugh. It was a nice release. I was able to admire again how wonderful Jack looked when he was smiling–friendly creases at the corners of his eyes, straight white teeth, and the solitary, beloved dimple in his clean-shaven face.
 “He’s taken our troubles very personally,” I said softly. “After all, that’s one hundred percent of his tenants with unhappy love lives. But I know we’re another soap opera to him. I hear him yelling at his TV all the time, like, ‘Don’t let her walk avay! Tell her you were drugged when Carly seduced you!'”
 I imitated his German accent to the best of my ability, and Jack, grinning, nodded in recognition.
 “He summarizes the plots for me when I’m stretching before a run. I guess I should stop stretching in front of the Old School.” This is what Jack called our building, because I told him that’s what Altschul means: “old school.” I realized I was softening, so I looked at my watch. “I’ve got to fly. I have to do some, uh–research.”
 His eyebrows went up; he was curious. I could forgive that, because I happen to be very nosy about everything Jack does as well. However, he wasn’t going to make the mistake of asking what I was up to, not after two arguments in a row.
 “Have a nice morning,” he said.
 He looked rather forlorn, standing there with his windshield fluid. Things like that tempt a person to give in, but I had my principles. “Thanks.”
 He touched my arm. “I have some bad habits, Maddy. I’ll work on them. You’ve been happy with me for a year, haven’t you?”
 “Yes,” I acknowledged.
 “Just tell me it’s not over. I don’t expect you to hop back into bed with me. Right away. Just tell me you’re not going to leave me over this, okay?”
 “IÉ” I hesitated, confronted by the dimple in a truly earnest expression. “I’d like to see us work things out. We’ll see.” I opened the driver’s door of my rehabbed Merkur Scorpio, a car I’d chosen because it bore my astrological sign.
 “Dinner tonight?” he asked, with an appealing amount of humility.
 “We’ll see.”
 “I’m cooking.”
 I shut the driver’s door and rolled down the window a crack. “Let me see how the day goes. If you’re planning some kind of seductionÉ”
 “I’m not, Maddy. I said I wasn’t.”
 “Because what we need is communication, not sex.” This wasn’t entirely true, as one thing Jack and I had in common was a healthy zest for making love, but I was trying to make a point.
 He put his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “Can you at least call and let me know? Chicken Shea takes two hours to prepare.”
 Chicken Shea, I thought, suppressing a smirk. How did I end up dating a guy who named recipes after himself? Still, I happened to know that Chicken Shea was delicious, as was most of what Jack created in the kitchen.
 “Fair enoug

Fur-Face by Jon Gibbs — a middle grade fantasy about unusual friendships, unlikely alliances, and wanting to fit in — is our Kindle Nation eBook of the Day, and here’s a free sample!

An evil scientist with a dastardly invention and a sadistic billionaire with a diabolical plan? Up against two teenagers and one amazing cat, they don’t stand a chance! 

Here’s the set-up for Fur-Face by Jon Gibbs, one of those librarian’s recommendation for kids from 7 to 13 that will actually appeal to kids, and adults, of all ages:

When 13-year-old Billy Euston moves to the English country village of Little Chumberry, he finds an unlikely friend in Snowy, an outrageous talking cat that only he can hear. 

Through Snowy he learns of an evil scientist who kidnaps local animals for use in experiments on inter-species communication. Billy finds himself drawn ever deeper into a world of cruelty and exploitation, where every answer uncovers another question. 

Who is Fur-Face? Why does he operate on animals’ brains? What really goes on in the tunnels beneath Adventure Safari (the nearby zoo and theme park)? With the help of Snowy and Carmen, a local girl whose grandmother owns both the research center and the park, Billy tries to find out, not realizing his search for answers could cost Snowy every last one of his nine lives. 

From the Reviewers:

Jon Gibb’s Fur-Face can take its place among classics like Robert O’Brien’s Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Richard Adams’s Watership Down and Robert Lawson’s Fabulous Flight. They all involve marvelous interaction and communication between thoughtful animals and, often, children….

Sometimes juvenile literature charms adult readers as well, and from the start Fur-Face by Jon Gibbs had me reading with delight….

Great plot and engaging characters…Highly recommended!  Fur-Face is a fast paced story with an intriguing plot….

Child friendly, without being just for kids….

Potentially a classic.  Although Fur-face was written for the “young adult” market, it’s written well enough that adults of all ages will enjoy it….

I’m reading Fur-Face to my ten-year-old son and he’s enjoying it. He laughs at Snowy’s quips and jokes and when him and Razor traded (G rated) insults. If you need a fresh bedtime story for your kids, this is a good choice….

If you have middle grade kids, they will LOVE Snowy. 

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample:

Kindle Nation Daily Free Book Alert, Saturday, February 26: Soul Identity, Kindle Publishing Guide, Over 200 More! plus … Better Than Ever, Again by Mitch Davies (Today’s Sponsor)

We do have some loyal and tenacious readers who have downloaded over 1,000 books from our constantly updated daily Free Book Alert listings of over 200 books. If you’re in that elite, you may have already grabbed the speculative Dennis Batchelder page-turner that has emerged again at the top of our list, but otherwise, here’s your chance….

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Free Contemporary Titles in the Kindle Store

Just use the slider at right of your screen below to scroll through a complete, updated list of free contemporary Kindle titles, and click on an icon like this one (at right) to read a free sample right here in your browser! Titles are sorted in reverse chronological order so you can easily see new freebies.

Publish on Amazon Kindle with Kindle Direct Publishing
By: Amazon.com
Added: 02/25/2011 4:01:22pm
Soul Identity
By: Dennis Batchelder
Added: 02/25/2011 4:01:19pm
Heart of the Sea: An Others Bonus Story
By: Christine Warren
Added: 02/25/2011 3:01:39am
Origin Scroll (Targa Trilogy)
By: Richard S. Tuttle
Added: 02/24/2011 3:01:17am
By: Joanne Ellis
Added: 02/23/2011 4:01:21pm
When Darkness Falls: Free eBook Part 3
By: James Grippando
Added: 02/23/2011 3:01:21am
The Bond: An Excerpt with Fifty Ways to Help Animals
By: Wayne Pacelle
Added: 02/23/2011 3:01:18am
Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith #6: Sentinel
By: John Jackson Miller
Added: 02/23/2011 3:01:09am
By: Laurel Dewey
Added: 02/22/2011 3:01:07am
The Truth About Better Business Communication (Collection)
By: Leigh Thompson
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:42am
The Young Professional's Guide to Taking Control of Your Money
By: Farnoosh Torabi
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:39am
15 Successful Communications Lessons (Collection)
By: FT Press Delivers
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:36am
How to Make Money Marketing Your Business on Facebook
By: Clara Shih
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:33am
Germs, Genes, & Civilization: How Epidemics Shaped Who We Are Today
By: David P. Clark
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:29am
The Rules of Work, Expanded Edition: A Definitive Code for Personal Success
By: Richard Templar
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:26am
The Truth About Managing People
By: Stephen P. Robbins
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:23am
Medical Error
By: Richard Mabry
Added: 02/21/2011 3:01:19am
The Little Known
By: Janice Daugharty
Added: 02/20/2011 4:01:16pm
Squidge: Little Elf, Big Trouble
By: Andrew Thomas
Added: 02/19/2011 6:43:09pm
Letters to a Soldier
By: Julia Spencer-Fleming
Added: 02/18/2011 3:01:20am
The Guilt Free 3
By: Lisa Lillien
Added: 02/18/2011 3:01:17am
By: Jonathan Maberry
Added: 02/18/2011 3:01:14am
The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2012
By: Office of Management and Budget
Added: 02/15/2011 4:01:27pm
When Darkness Falls: Free eBook Part 2
By: James Grippando
Added: 02/15/2011 3:01:34am
When Darkness Falls: Free eBook Part 1
By: James Grippando
Added: 02/15/2011 3:01:31am
Without Reservations: With or Without, Book 1
By: J. L. Langley
Added: 02/15/2011 3:01:28am
Sheet Music: Uncovering the Secrets of Sexual Intimacy in Marriage
By: Kevin Leman
Added: 02/14/2011 4:01:30pm
Instant MBA
By: Nicholas Bate
Added: 02/11/2011 4:01:24pm
The Lazy Project Manager
By: Peter Taylor
Added: 02/11/2011 4:01:20pm
Sporting Wood
By: Cindy Spencer Pape
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:42am
Second Sight Dating
By: Marianne Stephens
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:39am
Saying Yes
By: Barbara Elsborg
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:36am
Remembered Love
By: Diana Hunter
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:33am
Most Unpopular Workday of the Year
By: Ashlyn Chase
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:30am
How To Marry a Millionaire Vampire with Bonus Material
By: Kerrelyn Sparks
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:26am
Emerald Green
By: Desiree Holt
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:23am
Discovering Sofia
By: Mel Teshco
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:20am
City of Sin
By: Rena Marks
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:17am
Stockholm Seduction
By: Lily Harlem
Added: 02/10/2011 3:01:14am
Raising the Dead
By: Mara Purnhagen
Added: 02/08/2011 4:01:13pm
After the Leaves Fall
By: Nicole Baart
Added: 02/07/2011 4:01:15pm
Video Poker (A Free Game for Kindle)
By: Amazon Digital Services
Added: 02/04/2011 3:01:09am
Wading Home
By: Rosalyn Story
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:57am
Talk of the Town
By: Lisa Wingate
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:48am
A Promise to Remember
By: Kathryn Cushman
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:35am
Hara's Legacy: Resonance Mates, Book 1
By: Bianca D’Arc
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:30am
Candle in the Darkness (Refiner's Fire, Book 1)
By: Lynn Austin
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:25am
The Choice (Lancaster County Secrets, Book 1)
By: Suzanne Woods Fisher
Added: 02/01/2011 3:01:20am
Master the SAT: The Writing Process and the SAT Essay
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 4:01:50pm
Master the SAT: Mulitple-Choice Math Strategies
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 4:01:46pm
Master the ASVAB--ASVAB Subject Review
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 4:01:43pm
Master the Real Estate License Exams
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 4:01:35pm
Master the SAT: Diagnosing Strengths and Weaknesses--Practice Test 1
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 3:01:51am
Master the SAT: Geometry Review
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 3:01:48am
Ultimate Word Success
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 3:01:44am
Green Careers in Energy
By: Peterson’s
Added: 01/31/2011 3:01:35am
Imaginary Jesus
By: Matt Mikalatos
Added: 01/30/2011 3:01:14am
By: Rene Gutteridge
Added: 01/30/2011 3:01:10am
The n00b Warriors (Book One)
By: Scott Douglas
Added: 01/28/2011 4:01:09pm
Origins (Spinward Fringe)
By: Randolph Lalonde
Added: 01/28/2011 3:01:10am