2 Ways to Get Free Books on Your Kindle

I just stumbled onto this great resource online, and had to share it with you. BookSneeze is an organization that sends free kindle (or hard copy) books to bloggers in exchange for a book review.

I’ve already signed up, and received this book (review soon to follow!).

Also, I know it might be obvious, but do you utilize your library’s online catalog?

E-books are surprisingly easy to access online (for free!) from libraries.

The library site allows you to keep a long wish list and to request several books at a time. So, even if there’s a long wait for some books, I just request them, and it has so far worked out that I pretty regularly am able to get a new book every two weeks or so.

And the best part is that there are never any late fees – as soon as my two-week check-out period is up, the book just disappears from my Kindle.

It literally never ceases to bring me joy.

The thing about library books and free books is that you can feel free to try reads that you might not otherwise pay money for.  I’ve gotten introduced to several new authors – some that I’ve really liked, others that I haven’t bothered to finish. Here is a sampling of a few recent reads:

  • Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity“, by Katerine Boo. Fantastic, absorbing read! What an honest, absorbing portrait of honesty. I actually had dreams about Mumbai slums after reading this. Probably the best book I read all summer
  • The Paris Wife: A Novel“, by Paula McLain. I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down. Beautifully written, and so interesting to get this perspective on Ernest Hemingway’s life.
  • Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel” by Jonathan Safran Foer. I loved the movie, but I couldn’t finish the book, to be honest.
  • Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” by Robert K. Massie. Fascinating, well-written. Highly recommended!
  • Imperfect Birds: A Novel” by Anne Lamott. Not the best book I’ve ever read, but I so enjoy Anne Lamott’s voice…
  • Loving Frank” by Nancy Horan. I definitely was up late at night looking up pictures of buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright while reading this. I can’t say that I liked it, though. I felt it went on for too long, and the protagonist really irritated me.

What about you? Have you read any good books lately? Do you know any other ways to get free Kindle books?

P.S. A fantastic Moscow library!

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Russian Models


This looks like a good, and sort of heart-breaking documentary. It’s about girls from rural Siberia trying to become models in another country.

Have you seen any good documentaries recently?

P.S. video found here.

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Happy Friday!

Hello friends,

Thanks so much for sticking around with my erratic posting schedule this month. Economist husband and I are still enjoying our vacation and soaking up all this great time with family and friends. This weekend we’re going to a cabin up in the northern woods of MN with my sister, brother-in-law and beautiful niece! We’re getting in as much as we can before heading back to Moscow…

PS. photo of umbrellas and trolley bus found here.

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The Best Part of Being on Vacation

Isn’t my niece, Charlotte beautiful? I’m so loving seeing her and being an aunt. She’s just starting to learn how to crawl (using her face when it’s too complicated to figure out the arm-knee combination). She’s such a sweetie!

Do any of you have family far away? How do you stay in touch?

P.S. a long-distance communication tip and popular Russian baby names

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Hello from California!

Hi Friends,

I hope you’ve had a good weekend. Economist husband and I are so enjoying our time away from the city. Here are a few snapshots – more to follow, I promise.

It’s been so refreshing for us to breathe in all this fresh air, and explore these beautiful places. We feel so restored and energized. I’ve also noticed that visiting these new parts of the world reminds us how amazing God is – how different He is from all our comfortable preconceptions.

In other words, we are loving it!

“How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you.” – 2 Samuel 7:22

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Happy Friday!

Russia’s famous tandem, enjoying lunch

Hi friends!

How is your week going? This picture (which was found here) of Russia’s ubiquitous tandem dining at Zhiguli made me laugh.

Economist husband and I are enjoying the warm weather here in CA, trying to soak up as much as we can before heading north. Pictures to follow soon, I promise!

P.S. Putin/Medvedev picture was found here.

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Friendship, Flourescent Lights and Free-throw Lines

This post is the fifth in a BreakfastinMoscow series on friendship. To see more on the subject, click here.

Do you feel like you have close friends and authentic community? Are you in a situation or place in life that makes it more challenging to build close friendships? This guest post from my good friend Jennifer Dougan offers a bit of advice on a question to ask yourself when trying to relate to others and build friendships…

Jennifer Dougan

Atop creaky honey-colored bleachers in middle school, Sara Hepner* crushed a wad of chewing gum onto my hair, smushing it far into the strands. The basketball game of high school boys raged on below us, and foul horns bellowed. Lanky high school boys lined up at the free-throw line, and my fingers crawled behind my head on reconnaissance.

Later that night under harsh fluorescent kitchen lights, ice cubes and shears flashed and twisted the light in my mom’s gentle hands. In angry tears, I poured out the story. She listened and then asked the question I knew was coming. “How do you think she feels?”

It always flared my temper –that question. Wanting my mom to grab swords and armor to join me in the battle, she instead compassionately listened, asked questions, and then ended with this doozie each time. “How do you think she feels?

Adult friendships rarely involve gum battles. But in my talks with women from all ages and seasons of life, other hurts, wounds, and struggles appear.

Home alone for hours with an infant and toddler, Jill was desperate for some adult conversation. “All the women around me are too busy, or don’t initiate relationships,” she confided sadly one day. “I call people to get together, but I don’t really feel like I have a close friend.”

Later, other women opened up further. “I’ve been at my church for years and keep trying to get to know people by volunteering, but I still don’t feel close to anyone” or “There are lots of people I know but no real friend. A friend calls you at home, and not just for work or ministry reasons.”

Women of all walks of life are crying out for community and close relationships. This need for “authentic community” is so palpable that churches and organizations everywhere are researching and publicizing these buzzwords. Deep adult friendships are treasured and priceless. They seem rare some days too. Instead of gum wads, we women wrestle against the crunch of busy lives and our best intentions; against the insecurities that follow us and our desire for close relationships.

On a crisp evening stroll through sleeping suburban streets, we talk, a friend and I. There had been misunderstandings, flared tempers, and hurt feelings. Children hung in the balance and mama bears reared up. Stumbling over uneven asphalt, we whispered and shared. Suddenly in the dark, my mom’s question blurted to the surface before I could catch myself. “How do you think she feels?” In the pause that followed, I laughed sheepishly and explained.

Lacing all my interactions now is this insidious question. In conversations with my kids, interspersed through vehement discussions with my husband, and in my other relationships now, the refrain of “How do you think he/she/ they feel?” echoes through my mind.

And as my fingers crawl back through my head on reconnaissance trips now, and people line up on their sides of the free-throw line, it slices deep into my heart and mind. “How do you think he/she feels?” and it throws fluorescent light on any interaction.

P.S. Jennifer Dougan is a long-time friend of mine. She spent part of her childhood in Africa, and has also lived in Europe. She and her husband lead the youth program at the church I went to growing up in MN. Jen’s posts so frequently inspire, encourage, and make me think. If you enjoyed this post, head over to Jen’s blog “Jottings from Jennifer” for more.

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