Tag Archive: giveaway

Okay, so the title is a bit of a mouthful, but you gotta be thorough with those things. Also, there are zero other e-books that have “lean-FIRE” in their title, and that’s just a damn shame, eh. (For the uninitiated: “FIRE” stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early” – and lean-FIRE is the frugal version of that movement.) You can download my shiny new e-book over here. It’ll stay free until the end of Friday, June 2. I may do another giveaway in the coming weeks… If you like the e-book, please leave a 5-star review so others would be able to find it too!

As for what the book is about, I’m just going to shamelessly plagiarize my own e-book description here…

I retired at 34. I can teach you how.

My story doesn’t involve huge inheritances, rich relatives, or cushy jobs obtained through the Good Ol’ Boy Network. I’m a double immigrant: from Russia to the US when I was 16, from the US to Canada when I was 32. I never made six figures, never got huge scholarships, and my first job after college was as a box packer at an Amazon warehouse. (Thanks, recession!) Over the years, and by necessity, I mastered the art of frugal living and taught myself how to earn more, spend less, and invest the rest.

This book grew out of my personal finance blog, with a few extra chapters thrown in. Consider it your instruction manual for achieving frugal early retirement, aka lean-FIRE. (FIRE is a financial movement: it stands for “Financial Independence, Retire Early.”)

This book is written in a conversational and informal (sometimes too informal) style, and it has something for everyone who wants to improve their financial situation. Even if you don’t replicate my journey entirely, you’ll still be able to avoid some huge mistakes and boost your savings rate.

This e-book is hands down the most book-like e-book I’ve ever written: for one thing, it’s long (317 pages, woot!), and consists entirely of my own writing, unlike so many of the public-domain e-books I’ve spliced together. In theory, I could’ve tried to pitch it to publishing houses to get it printed like an actual real-life book, but from what I understand about the industry, nowadays they prefer authors with huge social media platforms, and that’s not something I care to maintain. (You, dear reader, are part of a small and exclusive club!) So e-book format it is, then.

This e-book has a lot of rather personal information that average people never really share with one another: money permeates so many aspects of our lives, yet it’s considered faux pas to bring it up, especially so when you’re doing better than those around you. Not gonna lie, I had some doubts about releasing it, even as I cleaned up all my old blog posts and wrote a couple of new chapters.

I ended up clicking that “Publish” button anyway, and that’s due to two simple reasons. First, no one will remember any of us 150 years from now: our internal struggle, shame, or awkwardness don’t matter one bit in the grand scale of things. And secondly, if my e-book can help at least one person (and ideally, many more) streamline their financial situation and retire earlier, then all of this will be worth it. In fact, one of my PCT hiking buddies has already thanked me profusely: he’s a lawyer, but he never got a chance to learn the ins and outs of personal finance – until now. Looks like I’ve already accomplished my absolute-minimum goal – let’s see how many more I can help, eh?

And so, without further ado, head over here if you’d like to download the e-book for free, and please feel free to share the link with all your friends: my e-book has something for everyone. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope even more to get a shiny 5-star review from you afterwards. Have fun!

P.S.: To celebrate my e-book’s release, I’m also doing a two-day giveaway on most of my other e-books over here. Personally, I highly recommend 50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness. It contains useful perspectives on happiness from great thinkers across the millennia. (We could all use that in this stressful time!)

Giving away my Kindle e-books

It’s been a while since I’ve done that, so why not, eh? I’m giving away most of my Kindle e-books until December 30th and/or 31st. (Amazon’s delightful KDP menu glitched halfway through the process. Heh.)

If you like what you see, please feel free to leave a 5-star review! Tell your friends, download some fun non-fiction goodness, and I hope you’ll enjoy your new reading material.

The full list can be found over here. Or, for posterity’s sake, here’s the list of what’s up for grabs:

  1. Plague Diaries: a Covid Chronicle. As the title suggests, this is the 406-day-long chronicle of my covid lockdown, from the first emergency declaration in Canada right until I got my vaccines in the States. A whole lot more happened in between… Occasionally funny, mostly terrifying, and an honest look at what that was like.
  2. 50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness. Hands down my favourite creation – but, ironically, the least popular one among my readers. This is a collection of 50 ancient (and overall old-timey) thinkers who pontificated on the nature of happiness. It’s quite interesting (as well as useful!) to see the perspectives from centuries and even millennia ago. My favourite? Christina, Queen of Sweden.
  3. Legends & Lore from Around the World. I’ll be the first to admit that the formatting in this 15,000-page monster of an e-book is pretty bad. If you’re willing to look past that, though, you’ll find the largest collection of myths and legends ever assembled under one cover. Native Americans, Aboriginal Australians, African myths – this book has them all.
  4. Roommate Survival Guide: 33 ways to stay sane and have fun. I’ve had well over 100 roommates over the course of my life. Learn from my mistakes and fun experiences!
  5. Taoism-101: Answers and Explanations. This is a short and sweet guide to Taoism, presented in the FAQ format. Learn what it is, find out what it isn’t, and dazzle all your friends with your newfound esoteric knowledge!
  6. Go to college without going broke: 33 ways to save your time, money and sanity. Released over a decade ago, this was once one of my most popular e-books. (I like to think that the advice is still quite applicable!) As an immigrant, I had to learn the intricacies of the US college system all on my own. This book has the sum total of my knowledge: how to travel almost for free, how to save a fortune on textbooks, where to find free food and wine on campus, etc. It’s only 37 pages long, but it should save you and yours thousands of dollars.

That’s about it: go forth and download! (And, as always, don’t forget those 5-star reviews, eh!)

When the pandemic first began two years ago, we all sought different coping mechanisms. Indoor gardening, adopting a pet from the local shelter, sourdough bread starters (I still haven’t managed to grow one of those), singing sea shanties over Zoom, and many, many more. For me, it was a bit different. 

I saw a Reddit post that recommended keeping a daily diary. That would keep you grounded and distracted, give you something to do, and might provide an interesting time capsule for your future self to reflect upon…

When I started my daily “Plague Diaries” blog posts, I didn’t have a particular plan or destination in mind. At some point, I promised myself I’d keep writing until I got fully vaccinated. I had no idea that would take over a year. Had I known ahead of time that the blog series would last 406 days, I might not have started it in the first place — but I’m glad I went through with that project.

Someday, somehow, some way, some other, future, wiser version of myself will be able to re-read all those daily posts, reflect on that crazy year of politics and pandemic, as well as my highly unstable job situation as I kept trying to not get fired, to last just long enough to become a permanent Canadian resident. 

Here and now, though… I wanted to share this experience and this tale with the world, but I found out the hard way that book agents aren’t very enthusiastic about 232,500-word manuscripts landing in their inbox. Heh. I did the next best thing: spent several days compiling and formatting all those posts, and then turned it into my longest Kindle e-book to date.

To celebrate its release, I’m giving it away for free: it’ll stay free on Kindle for the next five days, until the end of Sunday, March 13th. If you’re reading this in the future, then a) hello from the past! and b) if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can still read the book for free that way. And if you don’t have an actual Kindle device, fret not — you can install the Kindle app on your phone or computer. I’ve got you covered, eh: just go over yonder and click the big button.

If you like the book — or if you’d read those blog posts of mine in the past (you know who you are!), I would sincerely appreciate it if you download the book and leave a five-star review, even if it’s just two sentences long.

If you’d like to learn more, here is the official book description. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks in advance!

“Plague Diaries: a Covid Chronicle” begins with a Russian-American-Canadian workaholic trying to keep his artsy and immuno-compromise girlfriend safe from covid in rural Ontario in March 2020. Things get a whole lot weirder after that.

This book is a chronicle of one man’s quest to stay away from covid, to find vaccines, and — hopefully — maintain his sanity as the world falls apart. Part personal journal, part time capsule, each of the 406 days has a small personal update and a link to that day’s strangest news, be it political or covid-related. Mundanity and boredom are mixed with global horror as the virus spreads…

Relive the events of that turbulent year with this book: the stranded cruise ships, the sourdough starter mania, the summer riots, the week-long uncertainty as Trump caught covid, the longest election of our lifetime, the long-awaited vaccine news, the January coup attempt, the GameStop saga, and much, much more. Along the way, there are road trips, abandoned mine exploration, a quest to become a Canadian, a love affair with an Instapot, a pursuit of financial independence and early retirement, and lots more.

Plague diaries, Day 198

Sunday night. A sunny day is always a treat, but when it falls on a Sunday, it feels like all is right with the world.

First things first: I’m giving away an e-book on happiness! I wrote “50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness” six years ago, but it seems particularly relevant in 2020. The book combines 50 writings on the nature of happiness by pre-modern authors. (Incidentally, everything written prior to 1932 is copyright-free.) Some of the pieces in the book are long, some are short, some are collections of thoughts and aphorisms. I’m sure there’s something there that will help you feel a little better in this weird, unprecedented year. The book is free to download from now until the end of Thursday, October 1. If you like the book, I’d appreciate it if you left a nice review and told your friends.

In other news… The great MRI odyssey last night ended with me getting back home at 4am. Ye olde sleep cycle is going to be a bit off-balance for a little while, but hey – worth it. I spent a couple of hours outside the downtown hospital, enjoying the warm weather and the quiet night. I don’t believe I spent a single evening out and about in Toronto this year… The city gets so different at night: quiet, peaceful, somehow more futuristic. That’s also the only time there are no traffic jams, which makes driving on the local highways an actually enjoyable experience, for once.

I spent a solid couple of hours today just walking around the neighbourhood, trying to find the nearest walking-distance Tim Hortons that sold sandwiches. (I had no idea they had some that sold only doughnuts!) The 30-minute walk ended up taking two hours, but it was a) delicious, b) sunny, c) warm, and d) a nice change of pace. (No pun intended – honest!) It was also a nice opportunity to start reading the new novel by Claire North, one of my favourite authors. (I can’t recommend her “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” highly enough!)

As I was waiting outside the hospital last night, I joined the subreddit on Canada immigration, and the things I read were not very encouraging… Some wrote that they had to wait 11 months to receive their PR (permanent residency) after applying last year. Of course, they’re just anonymous Internet strangers, and they might have had different PR applications than mine, but still… This whole time, I’ve been bracing myself for six months of waiting, from August till maybe as late as February. If I have to keep hanging on all the way through next summer… Let’s just hope it doesn’t get that bad, eh? I like to think that somewhere, somehow, some dedicated Service Canada folks are working hard to eliminate the PR application backlog to keep it from turning into a timebomb.

An online buddy of mine (we stayed at the same Costa Rican hostel years ago) has a girlfriend who just got her PR. Not sure how long they had to wait but hey, this shows that the system works. Even the waiting isn’t worthless: to apply for Canadian citizenship later on, you need to have spent three of the last five years in Canada, and the pre-PR days (work permit, for instance) count as half-years. That means if I get my PR on my two-year arrival anniversary in April 2021, I’d need to spend just two more years in the great white north to fully cement my position. Goals and aspirations!

In covid news, more of the same old, same old around the world. Locally, there’s a bit of a funny story… My previous landlady, here in Toronto, who fancies herself an event organizer, got tired of all the restrictions. She tried to set up a party for 40 people (two separate groups of 20) on the second floor of a downtown bar, skirting the 10-person limit on technicality, and making masks optional… (She’s the sort of person who believes that essential oils will cure everything – and if they don’t, you obviously need more essential oils! It’s basically essential oils all the way down.) When she posted online ads for her party on local social media, some of the saner folks were less than impressed… I’m not sure what exactly happened, but the event page got taken down. (Did someone call the bar and tell them about the legal ramifications? Alas, we’ll never know.) So yeah, it’s not just college students and Millennials who keep starting parties – it’s also older folks who really ought to know better, but just can’t stop chasing the almighty dollar. (The almighty loonie?) But hey, if you look on the bright side, that’s one super-spreader event that got successfully nixed. If that’s not a success story, I don’t know what is! Heh.

Giving away another e-book!

I’m on a roll – let’s do another giveaway! From now until midnight on the 27th, my e-book “50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness”  is free on Amazon.com!

What is it? Well, aside from a terrible pun, it’s actually a nifty little book that collects 50 different perspectives on happiness from all over the world, from centuries and millennia ago. They range from ancient philosophers to Mark Twain to Christina, Queen of Sweden (my favourite!), to a girl in the mid-19th century Illinois who wrote a damn good poem on being happy.

I’ve written quite a few e-books over the years, but this one remains my favourite. We live in the age of weaponized outrage, the time of chronic unhappiness, the era of workaholism. It doesn’t have to be this way. Now, more than ever, folks can use an outside perspective (or, in this case, 50 of them) to stop, and think, and reconsider. This may sound cheesy, but over the course of editing this book, I learned some things about myself and changed how I live my life – and I am happier for having done so. “50 shades of yay” remains my most favourite, and also least appreciated, creation.

So go ahead and click over yonder and download your free copy. You don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can just install the Kindle app on your phone, and that’ll do the trick. And as always, if you liked the book, please feel free to leave a book review on the book’s Amazon page: that’d be awful nice of you. 🙂 And needless to say (but let’s say it anyway!), tell your friends and share the link and maybe help them get a little happier too.

It’s been a while since I’ve done this, and now is as good a time as any. For the next 3 days, until midnight on the 24th, my e-book “Legends & Lore from Around the World” is free on Amazon.com!

What is it? Oh, nothing much – just a collection of all the world mythology I could get my hands on: the classic European stuff, the obscure and fascinating Native American myths you’ve never heard of, ancient tales from Africa, stories from the native people of Australia and much, much more. All in all, it’s over 10,000 pages of goodness. As far as I know, this is the largest collection of mythology ever assembled.

I’ll be honest and admit that some of the formatting may be slightly shoddy, but under Kindle’s new rules, I can’t upload e-books over 3,000 pages long. In other words, this copy of the book will remain the way it is. (Otherwise, I’d have to break it down into 4-5 individual e-books.)

So go ahead and click over yonder and download your free copy. You don’t need a Kindle to read it – you can just install the Kindle app on your phone, and that’ll do the trick. And as always, if you liked the book, please feel free to leave a book review on the book’s Amazon page: that’d be awful nice of you. 🙂

Do you like interesting books? Got nothing to read? I’ve got you. 🙂 This week (until the end of Friday, 6/02) I’m giving away 2 of my e-books.

Update: the giveaway is over, folks. Big thanks to all 500+ of you who downloaded the books, and I hope you enjoy them! If you didn’t make it in time, fear not – there are always options. If you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow one book for free each month – go over yonder for details. And, as always, feel free to leave Amazon reviews if you liked the books or reach out to me directly if you didn’t. Constructive criticism is always welcome around here.


“50 Shades of Yay” has 50 different essays and poems on the nature of happiness, written by different famous folks throughout the ages. They’re great for getting some perspective, as well as food for thought. (We have air conditioning, indoor plumbing, pizza delivery, and worldwide web, yet unhappiness is still here among us. This book may help.)

“Legends & Lore from Around the World” is the biggest collection of mythology (15,000 pages) in the world, with ancient stories from Ireland, Japan, Africa, Native Americans, etc, in addition to the usual stuff from Greece and Rome. Reading these ancient tales for the first time can be quite an experience, both intellectually and emotionally.

You don’t need a Kindle to read them – you can just install the Kindle app on the device of your choice. (Phone, tablet, microwave…) If you like the books, please feel free to leave a nice review on Amazon, share this post and tell your friends! (Not necessarily in that order.)

Thanks in advance – and enjoy!

It’s been a while since I published a new book on Kindle, so I figured I’d celebrate by doing a good ol’ giveaway! Today and tomorrow only, you can download a brand new, absolutely free (as in cheese!) copy of my latest book, 50 shades of yay: great thinkers on happiness.

As the snarky title explains, it’s about the nature of happiness. What is it, what is it not, why don’t I have it, and where can I score some – those are just a few questions that are covered in 50 different essays, poems, aphorisms and philosophical reflections on the topic. You’ve probably heard of some of the featured writers (Emily Dickinson, Abraham Lincoln, Socrates), but some of the others will definitely be a pleasant discovery. Consider Christina, the 16th-century queen of Sweden, whose insightful notes and memoirs are virtually forgotten these days.

This book has a little bit for everyone: serious discussions on the nature of happiness and short, snappy soundbites; serious philosophical texts and thought-provoking poems; viewpoints from both optimists and pessimists. 50 shades of yay has something for everyone, and certainly something for you to help you on your personal quest toward that most elusive goal, happiness. Happy reading and best of luck!

Download link

The new school year is about to begin, so it’s time for my biannual giveaway! If you’d like to download a free copy of my bestselling e-book “Go to college without going broke,” go over yonder. And no, you don’t need a Kindle to read it. You can read the e-book on any device, as long as it has an Internet connection and a screen.

What’s the book about? It’s about saving money, getting free textbooks, finding stress-free jobs, having a great spring break for just $20 – and much, much more. Give it a shot! If you like it, feel more than welcome to write a nice, 5-star review and recommend it to all your friends.

The giveaway ends on Tuesday night, August 13th. Enjoy!