I’m gradually reading the books that went through Kindle Scout and won Kindle Press contracts since the program’s inception at the end of 2014. All these authors are prolific, some of them award winning, some of them best sellers, each of them offering solid hours of reading pleasure to those of us who enjoy Mysteries, Thrillers, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Romance. Most recently added genres include Literature and Fiction, which I interpret to mean Literary and Commercial/General Fiction. So there’s something for everyone at the cost of an ice cream or a train ride. Each book has dozens of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, so this is just a taste.
Stacey Cochran’s EDDIE AND SUNNY
A searingly tender exploration of love that flourishes where you’d least expect it to survive, at the heart of America’s financial malaise. EDDIE AND SUNNY is a timely novel from an author whose distinctive voice resonates with confidence and compassion. Prose that stings like a whip and is at times gentle as a caress is perfectly captured by the book’s cover, which shows that something broken can still be beautiful. There’s tension and suspense on every page, underpinned throughout by themes of desperation, hope, dispossession and loyalty. Eddie and Sunny are irresistible protagonists, nuanced and flawed and fierce in their devotion to one another and their small family. The book’s layers of violence, from societal rejection and economic disempowerment to actual blows and bullets, got under my skin like a bruise. At times evocative of the iconic THELMA AND LOUISE, EDDIE AND SUNNY is a story of love and endurance that lingers long after the last page.
Alan Orloff’s RUNNING FROM THE PAST
When Colby Walker detects signs of abuse in his son’s friend while on vacation, he makes a decision to protect the boy, and goes with him and the Walker family on the lam. It’s a decision Colby comes to regret as his own past threatens to engulf him, and it jeopardizes the people closest to him. Alan Orloff tackles a tough, heart wrenching issue with a deceptively light touch. His prose reads and flows easily, but there’s a tense undercurrent beneath the sun and surf that pulls the reader into darker, more dangerous waters. The characters and voices are real, and material that we might otherwise flinch from is handled with care and sensitivity that never descends into sensationalism. I was left wondering what I would do in each of the character’s shoes.
Maggie Toussaint writing as Rigel Carson’s G-1
Challenges facing the earth in 2065 hit home in this tense ecological thriller, with water supply the primary currency in a power game that jeopardizes an already threatened planet. Maggie Toussaint’s depth of knowledge shines through in astute and compelling science. Well placed humor flares throughout the narrative, with Forman, an android ostensibly designed as a gigolo but who, as it turns out, is far more than good looks, hacking ability and Herculean strength. He can do just about anything, including feel. His loyalty and wit make him one of the book’s most memorable characters in a cast of idiosyncratic truth seekers hell bent on saving the world. G-1 marks the start of an intriguing and relevant sci fi series.
Neal Wooten’s PIT BULLS VS ALIENS
US military might is no match for invading aliens intent on colonizing Earth. Technologically advanced and remorseless, the strangers have trained sea mammals to divert ocean currents and attack humans. As the marauders move north from Central America, they destroy everything in their path. Thousands of people die until Pitt Bull Angel attacks one of the hulking brutes to defend her parent. Doggie mayhem ensues for the invaders in this fast moving sci fi story filled with treats. I’ll admit I was predisposed to love this book and was thrilled to discover an author who’s an ardent champion of the breed. There are some thrilling moments, some touching ones, some romance and an especially poignant encounter with a terrifying Pitt Bull dubbed Gentle Beast. A feel good read, unless you’re rooting for the wrong side.
Joseph Souza’s UNPAVED SURFACES
Sometimes you read a book that’s difficult to part with, and when you get to the end, you feel a twinge of regret that it’s over. Joseph Souza’s story of a family fractured by the disappearance of their beloved 9 year-old Auggie is breathtaking in its observation of human frailty, conflict, and the impact of sudden, mysterious loss. Keith, Auggie’s father blames himself for his son’s disappearance and loses himself in sightings of Auggie’s ghost in the woods. Auggie’s mother Claire blames herself too, and Auggie’s siblings find themselves adrift in the wake of the family’s trauma and grief. Each character is rendered in prose at once vibrant and subtle, even those who hardly show up. There’s Charlie, (dubbed ‘Useless’ by Keith’s boss), whose incompetence in the kitchen is thrown into high relief by Keith’s culinary brilliance, and Randy, the odd neighbor whose big-hearted gestures cast uncertain suspicion on him. When Keith is in the kitchen, the reader salivates. I read the food passages over and over to savor the menus and ingredients. The cooking is exquisite to everyone but Claire, who is revolted to the point of gagging by it’s lingering scent on her husband’s clothes. The author handles these extremes masterfully, deepening the level of characterization in unforeseen, beautifully perceptive ways. There are lots of superlatives that make this book stand out: crisp, revelatory dialogue, unexpected twists and suspense that peaks and wanes but never dissipates entirely.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, either on the books or the program, or perhaps you’d like to share your own journey towards publication.