The Best American eBooks




Mr. Peanut
by Adam Ross
Mr. Peanut
Format: PDF
Size: 6 MB
Pages: 335

David Pepin has been in love with his wife, Alice, since the moment they met in a university seminar on Alfred Hitchcock. After thirteen years of marriage, he still can’t imagine a remotely happy life without her — yet he obsessively contemplates her demise. Soon she is dead, and David is both deeply distraught and the prime suspect.

The detectives investigating Alice’s suspicious death have plenty of personal experience with conjugal enigmas: Ward Hastroll is happily married until his wife inexplicably becomes voluntarily and militantly bedridden; and Sam Sheppard is especially sensitive to the intricacies of marital guilt and innocence, having decades before been convicted and then exonerated of the brutal murder of his wife.

Still, these men are in the business of figuring things out, even as Pepin’s role in Alice’s death grows ever more confounding when they link him to a highly unusual hit man called Mobius. Like the Escher drawings that inspire the computer games David designs for a living, these complex, interlocking dramas are structurally and emotionally intense, subtle, and intriguing; they brilliantly explore the warring impulses of affection and hatred, and pose a host of arresting questions. Is it possible to know anyone fully, completely? Are murder and marriage two sides of the same coin, each endlessly recycling into the other? And what, in the end, is the truth about love?

Mesmerizing, exhilarating, and profoundly moving, Mr. Peanut is a police procedural of the soul, a poignant investigation of the relentlessly mysterious human heart — and a first novel of the highest order.

 



32 Candles
by Ernessa T. Carter
32 Candles
Format: PDF
Size: 6 MB
Pages: 335

32 Candles is the slightly twisted, utterly romantic, and deftly wry story of Davie Jones, who, if she doesn’t stand in her own way, just might get the man of her dreams.

Davie — an ugly duckling growing up in small-town Mississippi — is positive her life couldn’t be any worse. She has the meanest mother in the South, possibly the world, and on top of that, she’s pretty sure she’s ugly. Just when she’s resigned herself to her fate, she sees a movie that will change her life — Sixteen Candles. But in her case, life doesn’t imitate art. Tormented endlessly in school with the nickname "Monkey Night, " and hopelessly in unrequited love with a handsome football player, James Farrell, Davie finds that it is bittersweet to dream of Molly Ringwald endings. When a cruel school prank goes too far, Davie leaves the life she knows and reinvents herself in the glittery world of Hollywood — as a beautiful and successful lounge singer in a swanky nightclub.

Davie is finally a million miles from where she started — until she bumps into her former obsession, James Farrell. To Davie’s astonishment, James doesn’t recognize her, and she can’t bring herself to end the fantasy. She lets him fall as deeply in love with her as she once was with him. But is life ever that simple? Just as they’re about to ride off into the sunset, the past comes back with a vengeance, threatening to crush Davie’s dreams — and break her heart again.

With wholly original characters and a cinematic storyline, 32 Candles introduces Ernessa T. Carter, a new voice in fiction with smarts, attitude, and sassiness to spare.

 



Lowcountry Summer
by Dorothea Benton Frank
Lowcountry Summer
Format: PDF
Size: 6.1 MB
Pages: 344

Dorothea Benton Frank is a native of the South whose novels vividly capture the wild beauty, laid-back atmosphere, earthy characters, and charming eccentricities of life in South Carolina's Lowcountry. Written with compelling honesty and emotional depth, her stories have touched readers from coast to coast, and propelled her to the top ranks of bestsellerdom nationwide.

Now this remarkable writer revisits some of her most unforgettable characters in this enchanting new story sure to make you laugh and cry. Return with her to Tall Pines Plantation in this long-awaited sequel to her beloved bestseller Plantation…

When Caroline Wimbley Levine returned to Tall Pines Plantation, she never expected to make peace with long-buried truths about herself and her family. The Queen of Tall Pines, her late mother, was a force of nature, but now she is gone, leaving Caroline and the rest of the family uncertain of who will take her place.

In the lush South Carolina countryside, old hurts, betrayals, and dark secrets will surface, and a new generation will rise along the banks of the mighty Edisto River.

Wonderfully evocative, infused with humor and poignancy, and rich with the lyrical cadences of the South, Lowcountry Summer is vintage Dorothea Benton Frank, a deeply moving novel you'll want to savor and share.

 



Brains: A Zombie Memoir
by Robin Becker
Brains: A Zombie Memoir
Format: PDF
Size: 3.2 MB
Pages: 182

College-professor-cum-zombie Jack Barnes is a different breed of undead — he can think. In fact, he can even write. And the story he has to tell is a truly disturbing — yet strangely heartwarming — one.

Convinced he'll bring about a peaceful coexistence between zombies and humans if he can demonstrate his unique condition to Howard Stein, the man responsible for the zombie virus, Barnes sets off on a grueling cross-country journey to meet his maker. Along the way he recruits a small army of "super" zombies that will stop at nothing to reach their goal. There's Guts, the dreadlocked boy who can run like the wind; Joan, the matronly nurse adept at reattaching decaying appendages; Annie, the young girl with a fierce quick-draw; and Ros, who can actually speak. United they embark on an epic quest to attain what all men, women — and, apparently, zombies — yearn for: equality.

Brains is a blood-soaked, darkly humorous story that will have readers rooting for Barnes and his zombie posse to the very end.

 



Texasville
by Larry McMurtry
Texasville
Format: PDF
Size: 9.7 MB
Pages: 544

With Texasville, Larry McMurtry returns to the unforgettable Texas town and characters of one of his best-loved books, The Last Picture Show. This is a Texas-sized story brimming with home truths of the heart, and men and women we recognize, believe in, and care about deeply. Set in the post-oil-boom 1980s, Texasville brings us up to date with Duane, who's got an adoring dog, a sassy wife, a twelve-million-dollar debt, and a hot tub by the pool; Jacy, who's finished playing "Jungla" in Italian movies and who's returned to Thalia; and Sonny — Duane's teenage rival for Jacy's affections — who owns the car wash, the Kwik-Sackstore, and the video arcade.
One of Larry McMurtry's funniest and most touching contemporary novels.

 



Black Betty
by Walter Mosley
Black Betty
Format: PDF
Size: 6.6 MB
Pages: 368

1961: For most black Americans, these were times of hope. For former P. I. Easy Rawlins, Los Angeles's mean streets were never meaner… or more deadly. Ordinarily, Easy would have thrown the two bills in the sleazy shamus' face — the white man who wanted him to find the notorious Black Betty, an ebony siren whose talent for all things rich and male took her from Houston's Fifth Ward to Beverly Hills. There was too much Easy wasn't being told, but he couldn't resist the prospect of seeing Betty again, even if it killed him…

 



Black Orchids
by Rex Stout, Lawrence Block
Black Orchids
Format: PDF
Size: 3.7 MB
Pages: 208

Not much can get Wolfe to leave his comfortable brownstone, but the showing of a rare black orchid lures him to a flower show. Unfortunately, the much-anticipated event is soon overshadowed by a murder as daring as it is sudden. It’s a case of weeding out a cunning killer who can turn up anywhere — and Wolfe must do it quickly. Because a second case awaits his urgent attention: a society widow on a mailing list of poison-pen letters leading to a plot as dark as any orchid Wolfe has ever encountered.

 



All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers
by Larry McMurtry, Raymond L. Neinstein
All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers
Format: PDF
Size: 5.4 MB
Pages: 304

Ranging from Texas to California on a young writer's journey in a car he calls El Chevy, All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers is one of Larry McMurtry's most vital and entertaining novels.
Danny Deck is on the verge of success as an author when he flees Houston and hurtles unexpectedly into the hearts of three women: a girlfriend who makes him happy but who won't stay, a neighbor as generous as she is lusty, and his pal Emma Horton. It's a wild ride toward literary fame and an uncharted country… beyond everyone he deeply loves. All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers is a wonderful display of Larry McMurtry's unique gift: his ability to re-create the subtle textures of feelings, the claims of passing time and familiar place, and the rich interlocking swirl of people's lives.

 



A Little Yellow Dog
by Walter Mosley
A Little Yellow Dog
Format: PDF
Size: 6.9 MB
Pages: 384

November 1963: Easy's settled into a steady gig as a school custodian. It's a quiet, simple existence — but a few moments of ecstasy with a sexy teacher will change all that. When the lady vanishes, Easy's stuck with a couple of corpses, the cops on his back, and a little yellow dog who's nobody's best friend. With his not-so-simple past snapping at his heels, and with enemies old and new looking to get even, Easy must kiss his careful little life good-bye — and step closer to the edge…

 



Zeitoun
by Dave Eggers
Zeitoun
Format: PDF
Size: 6 MB
Pages: 337

The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun run a house-painting business in New Orleans. In August of 2005, as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Kathy evacuates with their four young children, leaving Zeitoun to watch over the business. In the days following the storm he travels the city by canoe, feeding abandoned animals and helping elderly neighbors. Then, on September 6th, police officers armed with M-16s arrest Zeitoun in his home. Told with eloquence and compassion, Zeitoun is a riveting account of one family’s unthinkable struggle with forces beyond wind and water.

 



Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
by John Berendt
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story
Format: PDF
Size: 6.9 MB
Pages: 386

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

 



Stoner
by John Williams, John McGahern
Stoner
Format: PDF
Size: 4.9 MB
Pages: 278

William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known.

And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a “proper” family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.

John Williams's luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.

 



Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
by S.C. Gwynne
Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History
Format: PDF
Size: 6.9 MB
Pages: 384

In the tradition of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a stunningly vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

S. C. Gwynne’s Empire of the Summer Moon spans two astonishing stories. The first traces the rise and fall of the Comanches, the most powerful Indian tribe in American history. The second entails one of the most remarkable narratives ever to come out of the Old West: the epic saga of the pioneer woman Cynthia Ann Parker and her mixed-blood son Quanah, who became the last and greatest chief of the Comanches.

Although readers may be more familiar with the tribal names Apache and Sioux, it was in fact the legendary fighting ability of the Comanches that determined just how and when the American West opened up. Comanche boys became adept bareback riders by age six; full Comanche braves were considered the best horsemen who ever rode. They were so masterful at war and so skillful with their arrows and lances that they stopped the northern drive of colonial Spain from Mexico and halted the French expansion westward from Louisiana. White settlers arriving in Texas from the eastern United States were surprised to find the frontier being rolled backward by Comanches incensed by the invasion of their tribal lands. So effective were the Comanches that they forced the creation of the Texas Rangers and account for the advent of the new weapon specifically designed to fight them: the six-gun.

The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads — a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being.

Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the "White Squaw" who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told.

 



The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
by H.W. Brands
The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin
Format: PDF
Size: 13.7 MB
Pages: 765

National Bestseller 

He was the foremost American of his day, yet today he is little more than a mythic caricature in the public imagination. Benjamin Franklin, perhaps the pivotal figure in colonial and revolutionary America, comes vividly to life in this masterly biography.

Wit, diplomat, scientist, philosopher, businessman, inventor, and bon vivant, Benjamin Franklin was in every respect America’s first Renaissance man. From penniless runaway to highly successful printer, from ardently loyal subject of Britain to architect of an alliance with France that ensured America’s independence, Franklin went from obscurity to become one of the world’s most admired figures, whose circle included the likes of Voltaire, Hume, Burke, and Kant. Drawing on previously unpublished letters and a host of other sources, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands has written a thoroughly engaging biography of the eighteenth-century genius. A much needed reminder of Franklin’s greatness and humanity, The First American is a work of meticulous scholarship that provides a magnificent tour of a legendary historical figure, a vital era in American life, and the countless arenas in which the protean Franklin left his legacy.

 



Brokeback Mountain
by Annie Proulx
Brokeback Mountain
Format: PDF
Size: 0.9 MB
Pages: 55

Annie Proulx has written some of the most original and brilliant short stories in contemporary literature, and for many readers and reviewers, "Brokeback Mountain" is her masterpiece.

Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, two ranch hands, come together when they're working as sheepherder and camp tender one summer on a range above the tree line. At first, sharing an isolated tent, the attraction is casual, inevitable, but something deeper catches them that summer.

Both men work hard, marry, and have kids because that's what cowboys do. But over the course of many years and frequent separations this relationship becomes the most important thing in their lives, and they do anything they can to preserve it.

The New Yorker won the National Magazine Award for Fiction for its publication of "Brokeback Mountain, " and the story was included in Prize Stories 1998: The O. Henry Awards. In gorgeous and haunting prose, Proulx limns the difficult, dangerous affair between two cowboys that survives everything but the world's violent intolerance.

 



Tell-All
by Chuck Palahniuk
Tell-All
Format: PDF
Size: 3.2 MB
Pages: 179

The hyperactive love child of Page Six and Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? caught in a tawdry love triangle with The Fan. Even Kitty Kelly will blush.

Soaked, nay, marinated in the world of vintage Hollywood, Tell-All is a Sunset Boulevard–inflected homage to Old Hollywood when Bette Davis and Joan Crawford ruled the roost; a veritable Tourette’s syndrome of rat-tat-tat name-dropping, from the A-list to the Z-list; and a merciless send-up of Lillian Hellman’s habit of butchering the truth that will have Mary McCarthy cheering from the beyond.

Our Thelma Ritter–ish narrator is Hazie Coogan, who for decades has tended to the outsized needs of Katherine “Miss Kathie” Kenton — veteran of multiple marriages, career comebacks, and cosmetic surgeries. But danger arrives with gentleman caller Webster Carlton Westward III, who worms his way into Miss Kathie’s heart (and boudoir). Hazie discovers that this bounder has already written a celebrity tell-all memoir foretelling Miss Kathie’s death in a forthcoming Lillian Hellman–penned musical extravaganza; as the body count mounts, Hazie must execute a plan to save Katherine Kenton for her fans — and for posterity.

Tell-All is funny, subversive, and fascinatingly clever. It’s wild, it’s wicked, it’s bold-faced — it’s vintage Chuck.

 



On Folly Beach
by Karen White
On Folly Beach
Format: PDF
Size: 7.4 MB
Pages: 416

Folly Beach, South Carolina, has survived despite hurricanes and war. But it's the personal battles of Folly Beach's residents that have left the most scars, and why a young widow has been beckoned there to heal her own…

To most people, Folly Beach is simply the last barrier island before reaching the great Atlantic. To some, it's a sanctuary for lost souls, which is why Emmy Hamilton's mother encourages her to buy the local book store, Folly's Finds, hoping it will distract Emmy from the loss of her husband.

Emmy is at first resistant. So much has already changed. But after finding love letters and an image of a beautiful bottle tree in a box of used books from Folly's Finds, she decides to take the plunge. But the seller insists on one condition: Emmy must allow Lulu, the late owner's difficult sister, to continue selling her bottle trees from its back yard.

For the most part Emmy ignores Lulu as she sifts through the love letters, wanting to learn more. But the more she discovers about the letters, the more she understands Lulu. As details of a possible murder and a mysterious disappearance during WWII are revealed, the two women discover that circumstances beyond their control, sixty years apart, have brought them together, here on Folly Beach. And it is here that their war-ravaged hearts can find hope for a second chance…

 



Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
by Daniel Okrent
Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition
Format: PDF
Size: 8.6 MB
Pages: 480

A brilliant, authoritative, and fascinating history of America’s most puzzling era, the years 1920 to 1933, when the U. S. Constitution was amended to restrict one of America’s favorite pastimes: drinking alcoholic beverages.

From its start, America has been awash in drink. The sailing vessel that brought John Winthrop to the shores of the New World in 1630 carried more beer than water. By the 1820s, liquor flowed so plentifully it was cheaper than tea. That Americans would ever agree to relinquish their booze was as improbable as it was astonishing.

Yet we did, and Last Call is Daniel Okrent’s dazzling explanation of why we did it, what life under Prohibition was like, and how such an unprecedented degree of government interference in the private lives of Americans changed the country forever.

Writing with both wit and historical acuity, Okrent reveals how Prohibition marked a confluence of diverse forces: the growing political power of the women’s suffrage movement, which allied itself with the antiliquor campaign; the fear of small-town, native-stock Protestants that they were losing control of their country to the immigrants of the large cities; the anti-German sentiment stoked by World War I; and a variety of other unlikely factors, ranging from the rise of the automobile to the advent of the income tax.

Through it all, Americans kept drinking, going to remarkably creative lengths to smuggle, sell, conceal, and convivially (and sometimes fatally) imbibe their favorite intoxicants. Last Call is peopled with vivid characters of an astonishing variety: Susan B. Anthony and Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan and bootlegger Sam Bronfman, Pierre S. du Pont and H. L. Mencken, Meyer Lansky and the incredible — if long-forgotten — federal official Mabel Walker Willebrandt, who throughout the twenties was the most powerful woman in the country. (Perhaps most surprising of all is Okrent’s account of Joseph P. Kennedy’s legendary, and long-misunderstood, role in the liquor business. )

It’s a book rich with stories from nearly all parts of the country. Okrent’s narrative runs through smoky Manhattan speakeasies, where relations between the sexes were changed forever; California vineyards busily producing “sacramental” wine; New England fishing communities that gave up fishing for the more lucrative rum-running business; and in Washington, the halls of Congress itself, where politicians who had voted for Prohibition drank openly and without apology.

Last Call is capacious, meticulous, and thrillingly told. It stands as the most complete history of Prohibition ever written and confirms Daniel Okrent’s rank as a major American writer.

 



Crossing Oceans
by Gina Holmes
Crossing Oceans
Format: PDF
Size: 6.8 MB
Pages: 382

Jenny Lucas swore she'd never go home again. But being told you're dying has a way of changing things. Years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter, Isabella, must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella's dad… Who doesn't yet know he has a daughter. As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love and its ability to change everything-to heal old hurts, bring new beginnings… Even overcome the impossible. A stunning debut about love and loss from a talented new voice.

 






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