Saturday, September 6, 2014

Kindle Daily Deals (September 6, 2014): Two by Kurt Vonnegut, Kay Bratt's inspiring memoir, five romances featuring firemen, and Chick Soup for Preteens



Here's today's Kindle Daily Deal, available for $1.99!

Breakfast of Champions, by Kurt Vonnegut.

Breakfast of Champions (1973) provides frantic, scattershot satire and a collage of Vonnegut's obsessions. His recurring cast of characters and American landscape was perhaps the most controversial of his canon; it was felt by many at the time to be a disappointing successor to Slaughterhouse-Five, which had made Vonnegut's literary reputation.

The core of the novel is Kilgore Trout, a familiar character very deliberately modeled on the science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon (1918-1985), a fact which Vonnegut conceded frequently in interviews and which was based upon his own occasional relationship with Sturgeon. Here Kilgore Trout is an itinerant wandering from one science fiction convention to another; he intersects with the protagonist, Dwayne Hoover (one of Vonnegut's typically boosterish, lost and stupid mid-American characters) and their intersection is the excuse for the evocation of many others, familiar and unfamiliar, dredged from Vonnegut's gallery.

The central issue is concerned with intersecting and apposite views of reality, and much of the narrative is filtered through Trout who is neither certifiably insane nor a visionary writer but can pass for either depending upon Dwayne Hoover's (and Vonnegut's) view of the situation. America, when this novel was published, was in the throes of Nixon, Watergate and the unraveling of our intervention in Vietnam; the nation was beginning to fragment ideologically and geographically, and Vonnegut sought to cram all of this dysfunction (and a goofy, desperate kind of hope, the irrational comfort given through the genre of science fiction) into a sprawling narrative whose sense, if any, is situational, not conceptual.

Reviews were polarized; the novel was celebrated for its bizarre aspects, became the basis of a Bruce Willis movie adaptation whose reviews were not nearly so polarized. (Most critics hated it.) This novel in its freewheeling and deliberately fragmented sequentiality may be the quintessential Vonnegut novel, not necessarily his best, but the work which most truly embodies the range of his talent, cartooned alienation and despair.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Author Kurt Vonnegut is considered by most to be one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. His books Slaughterhouse-Five (named after Vonnegut's World War II POW experience) and Cat's Cradle are considered among his top works. RosettaBooks offers here a complete range of Vonnegut's work, including his first novel (Player Piano, 1952) for readers familiar with Vonnegut's work as well as newcomers.

"We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane." So reads the tombstone of downtrodden writer Kilgore Trout, but we have no doubt who's really talking: his alter ego Kurt Vonnegut. Health versus sickness, humanity versus inhumanity--both sets of ideas bounce through this challenging and funny book. As with the rest of Vonnegut's pure fantasy, it lacks the shimmering, fact-fueled rage that illuminates Slaughterhouse-Five. At the same time, that makes this book perhaps more enjoyable to read.

Breakfast of Champions is a slippery, lucid, bleakly humorous jaunt through (sick? inhumane?) America circa 1973, with Vonnegut acting as our Virgil-like companion. The book follows its main character, auto-dealing solid-citizen Dwayne Hoover, down into madness, a condition brought on by the work of the aforementioned Kilgore Trout. As Dwayne cracks, then crumbles, Breakfast of Champions coolly shows the effects his dementia has on the web of characters surrounding him. It's not much of a plot, but it's enough for Vonnegut to air unique opinions on America, sex, war, love, and all of his other pet topics--you know, the only ones that really count.

322 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 435 reviews




Here's today's Daily Romance Deal, available for $0.99!

The Fireman Who Loved Me: A Bachelor Firemen Novel (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel Book 1), by Jennifer Bernard.

The first book in Jennifer Bernard’s Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel series, The Fireman Who Loved Me is sizzling hot and sure to fire up contemporary romance lovers everywhere! Set in a California firehouse where all the fire fighters are gorgeous and single, The Fireman Who Loved Me follows the romantic exploits of Captain Brody of Station 52 who inadvertently becomes the prize at a charity “bachelor auction” and is won by a sweet, meddling old lady who turns him over to her husbandless, local TV news producer granddaughter. A great new voice with a very sexy edge, Jennifer Bernard is like the Kristin Higgins of firemen, and fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips—and the fireman romances of Jo Davis—will be burning for more. 

389 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 133 reviews

Five books in the Bachelor Firemen series at $0.99 each. (And who doesn't like a hot bachelor fireman?) The first book shown above, the next four, in series order, shown below.






Here's today's Daily Non-Fiction Deal, available for $1.99!

Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage, by Kay Bratt.

Irrepressible memories. Vacant eyes. A child being dangled from a third story window. A boy tied to a chair. Children sleeping in layers of clothing to fight off the bitter cold. An infant dying from starvation. Some things your mind will never allow you to forget.

Silent Tears is the true story of the adversity and triumphs one woman faced as she fought against the Chinese bureaucracy to help that country’s orphaned children.

In 2003, Kay Bratt’s life changed dramatically. A wife and mother of two girls in South Carolina, Bratt relocated her family to rural China to support her husband as he took on a new management position for his American employer. Seeking a way to fill her days and overcome the isolation she experienced upon arriving in a foreign country, Bratt began volunteering at the local orphanage. Within months, her simple desire to make use of her time transformed into a heroic crusade to improve the living conditions and minimize the unnecessary deaths of Chinese orphans.

Silent Tears traces the emotional hurdles and daily frustrations faced by Ms. Bratt as she tried to change the social conditions for these marginalized children. The memoir vividly illustrates how she was able to pull from reservoirs of inner strength to pursue her mission day after day, leaving the reader with the resounding message that everyone really can make a difference.

354 pages, with a 4.4-star rating from 549 reviews

KBoard's own Kay Bratt!




Here's today's Daily Science Fiction/Fantasy Deal, available for $1.99!

The Big Trip Up Yonder (The Galaxy Project), by Kurt Vonnegut.

The editor of GALAXY magazine, Horace Gold, was obsessed with social trends and their extrapolation. The prototypical GALAXY story (often parodied in the magazine itself) would take a present-day, often overlooked trend, fad or demographic fact and posit a society in which they had become dominant. Thus Fred Pohl’s THE MIDAS PLAGUE in which obsessive consumerism and its unpleasant acquisitiveness had become negative social values. Thus Damon Knight’s BACKWARD TURN BACKWARD in which the lifespan reversed (from grave to cradle) becomes a mockery of 1950’s youth obsession. And thus THE BIG TRIP UP YONDER (January 1954) in which the increasing of the lifespan has led to a future America in which the old dominate simply because they will not die and yield their share of the diminishing stock of possessions...a circumstance which leads to the inevitable infantilism of the deprived younger generations. THE BIG TRIP UP YONDER is the second and last of the two stories which Kurt Vonnegut, a struggling mainstream writer and reluctant presence in science fiction, sold to GALAXY magazine. Characteristic of Vonnegut’s work, it is framed as comedy but is deathly serious and confronts the issue of overextended mortality with unbending grimness. Vonnegut spent no more time hanging around the genre science fiction markets; it was another 18 years before THE BIG SPACE F--- appeared in AGAIN, DANGEROUS VISIONS and only did so because Vonnegut and that famous original anthology’s editor, Harlan Ellison, were old friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) is one of the most beloved American writers of the twentieth century. Vonnegut's audience increased steadily since his first five pieces in the 1950s and grew from there. His 1968 novel Slaughterhouse-Five has become a canonic war novel with Joseph Heller's Catch-22 to form the truest and darkest of what came from World War II.

Vonnegut began his career as a science fiction writer, and his early novels--Player Piano and The Sirens of Titan--were categorized as such even as they appealed to an audience far beyond the reach of the category. In the 1960s, Vonnegut became closely associated with the Baby Boomer generation, a writer on that side, so to speak.

Now that Vonnegut's work has been studied as a large body of work, it has been more deeply understood and unified. There is a consistency to his satirical insight, humor and anger which makes his work so synergistic. It seems clear that the more of Vonnegut's work you read, the more it resonates and the more you wish to read. Scholars believe that Vonnegut's reputation (like Mark Twain's) will grow steadily through the decades as his work continues to increase in relevance and new connections are formed, new insights made.

ABOUT THE SERIES

Horace Gold led GALAXY magazine from its first issue dated October 1950 to science fiction’s most admired, widely circulated and influential magazine throughout its initial decade. Its legendary importance came from publication of full length novels, novellas and novelettes. GALAXY published nearly every giant in the science fiction field.

The Galaxy Project is a selection of the best of GALAXY with new forewords by some of today’s best science fiction writers. The initial selections in alphabetical order include work by Ray Bradbury, Frederic Brown, Lester del Rey, Robert A. Heinlein, Damon Knight, C. M. Kornbluth, Walter M. Miller, Jr., Frederik Pohl, Robert Scheckley, Robert Silverberg, William Tenn (Phillip Klass) and Kurt Vonnegut with new Forewords by Paul di Filippo, David Drake, John Lutz, Barry Malzberg and Robert Silverberg. The Galaxy Project is committed to publishing new work in the spirit GALAXY magazine and its founding editor Horace Gold.

46 pages, with a 4.2-star rating from 49 reviews




Here's today's Daily Youth Deal, available for $1.99!

Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul: Stories of Changes, Choices and Growing Up for Kids Ages 9-13 (Chicken Soup for the Soul), by Jack Canfield.

From remembering their own life experience or to watching their own children grow, most people recognize that the preteen years, ages nine to thirteen, can be one of the most awkward times in life—a period of tremendous physical and emotional change. At this age, youngsters are eager to leave the “kid” stage, yet are uncertain about what adolescence will bring; they’d rather listen to peers over parents, and hear all too often to “wait until you're older.” Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul will guide kids through this transition.
Written by and for preteens, this uplifting collection of stories touches on the emotions and situations they experience every day: making and losing friends, fitting in while keeping their personal identity, discovering the opposite sex, dealing with pressures at school including violence, and coping with family issues such as divorce.
Chapters include: On Love, On Family, On Friendship, On Choices, On Changes, On Overcoming Obstacles, Eclectic Wisdom, Tough Stuff, Attitude and Perspective, and Achieving Dreams. Contributors include: *NSYNC, Mia Hamm, Beverley Mitchell, and Karl Malone.
Whether first-time Chicken Soup readers or “graduates” of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Kid’s Soul, preteens are sure to include this in their backpacks and book bags.

Inspired by the many readers of Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul (one of many in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series), the authors decided to reach out to young people at that incredibly confusing, exciting chapter of life, the preteen years. Readers between the ages of 9 and 12 (give or take a year) sometimes felt that the book for kids was too young, while the edition for teens (Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul) was too old. In this warm, supportive anthology of true stories by and about preteens, the very issues that seem so complicated and insurmountable are addressed with intelligence and openness. Divorce, violence, death, friendships, school, family, attitudes, changes, dreams... preteens have a lot to offer and a lot to learn on these subjects. Many of the brief essays, cartoons, quotations, and introductions are witty as well as wise and touching; readers might devour the book from start to finish, drop in for a story here and there, or focus on a concern that is most important at the moment. The preteen years seem to be the perfect time to reach kids, before they are lost in teen angst and coolness. And who better to learn from than their own peers? For some added incentive to read, celebrities such as Mia Hamm, Karl Malone, and 'N Sync have contributed essays as well. (Ages 9 to 13) --Emilie Coulter

413 pages, with a 4.3-star rating from 81 reviews



Happy Reading!

Betsy

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