Thursday, October 22, 2009

High on Arrival by Mackenzie Phillips eBook edition

In the interest of full disclosure: I did not see the Oprah interview and I was never really a Phillips fan. I picked up this book because everyone I know was talking about it. Flat out curiosity was my only motivation.

Whatever else you can say about the book, it is a quick read. I didn't spend a lot of time or energy on it. Basically it took me an afternoon to read. I have to constantly remind myself that, really, the only thing I lost in the transaction was a few bucks.

Let me get this part out of the way, her revelation that she had a sexual relationship with her Dad (consensual or not) is one of the least shocking parts of the book. The real shocker is the extent to which Mackenzie and her brother were chronically abused and neglected by their hapless, feckless parents. The sex is almost anticlimactic.

If she is to be believed, the abysmal lack of responsible adults in her life is horrifying. In the end none of the supposed adults look good. Not her father or her mother or her many step parents or even her aunt who at least tried to intervene.

The "if she is to be believed part" is also troubling. This is a women who by her own account was pretty chronically wasted on drugs. Yet she has an uncanny recollection of events, conversations and her motives when it suits her purpose.

The book is really nothing more than a long rambling "drunkalog" in which she names names, settles a few scores, blames a lot of people and justifies her life choices. The resulting story, all 300 pages of it, is sad and frustrating.

Abuse, whether neglect or incest, has long term, serious consequences and at a year of sobriety most people are unable to sort out the wreckage. And even if they can, it is not exactly something to do out loud and in public. It is a job that requires time, hard work and a lot of help from someone: a therapist, spiritual advisor or 12-step sponsor.

Admittedly she has a story to tell. The problem is that by telling it too soon she has set her self up become a victim. Creating a media circus and implicating others guarantees more isolation for a person who's whole life has been about being alone and different.

Here is the publisher's synopsis:

Not long before her fiftieth birthday,Mackenzie Phillips walked into Los Angeles International Airport. She was on her way to a reunion for One Day at a Time, the hugely popular 70s sitcom on which she once starred as the lovable rebel Julie Cooper. Within minutes of entering the security checkpoint, Mackenzie was in handcuffs, arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin.

Born into rock and roll royalty, flying in Learjets to the Virgin Islands at five, making pot brownies with her father's friends at eleven, Mackenzie grew up in an all-access kingdom of hippie freedom and heroin cool. It was a kingdom over which her father, the legendary John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas, presided, often in absentia, as a spellbinding, visionary phantom.

When Mackenzie was a teenager, Hollywood and the world took notice of the charming, talented, precocious child actor after her star-making turn in American Graffiti. As a young woman she joined the nonstop party in the hedonistic pleasure dome

her father created for himself and his fellow revelers, and a rapt TV audience watched as Julie Cooper wasted away before their eyes. By the time Mackenzie discovered how deep and dark her father's trip was going, it was too late. And as an adult, she has paid dearly for a lifetime of excess, working tirelessly to reconcile a wonderful, terrible past in which she succumbed to the power of addiction and the pull of her magnetic father.

As her astounding, outrageous, and often tender life story unfolds, the actor-musician-mother shares her lifelong battle with personal demons and near-fatal addictions. She overcomes seemingly impossible obstacles again and again and journeys toward redemption and peace. By exposing the shadows and secrets of the past to the light of day, the star who turned up High on Arrival has finally come back down to earth -- to stay.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

eBooks in Education: 10 eBook Resources for High School Students

I want to thank Donna for this great piece about eBooks in educational settings. She addresses this to high school students, but really, it is applicable to all students. For more info about Donna and her work see the link below.

If you’ve ever researched ebooks online, you’ve probably found lots of resources and ebook titles for very young children. Playing on these sites is a good way to teach preschoolers and elementary age children about reading and technology, and it gives them a safe, educational space to experiment with the Internet. But older students can also benefit from ebook resources, as they offer an engaging, convenient opportunity for students to explore reading and catch up on homework assignments. Here are 10 ebook resources for high school students.

  1. This website has a great selection of non-fiction books and guides about economics, architecture, art, current events and computers, providing students with supplemental study materials and books that can help them research future careers and college majors.
  2. This website features open source high school textbooks and resources for chemistry, math and physics.
  3. Here you’ll find books that teach marketing, financial tips, sports and fitness tips, and more.
  4. Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg shares an extensive online book and reading collection with periodicals, fiction, non-fiction books, biographies, plays, travel books, and more.
  5. On, teens will find fiction books, including classics, young adult books, mystery, science fiction, humor, short stories, poetry, theatre and more. also offers dictionaries, medical books, and other elearning resources.
  6. Purchase books from Barnes & Noble’s, which markets itself as “the world’s largest eBook store.” There is also a free ebook section with classics by authors like Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Edith Wharton, Robert Louis Stevenson, and more.
  7. This resource lets iPhone users download full-text books to their phone via a Facebook app.
  8. Kindle Store: If your child or student has a Kindle, you can purchase or find free Kindle fiction, non-fiction, newspapers, magazines and more at’s Kindle Store.
  9. This site has a directory of over 11,000 ebooks and can connect you to the original bookseller site.
  10. Microsoft Reader: Download Microsoft Reader for free to find over 60,000 ebooks. Microsoft Reader includes a note-taking feature, text search for each ebook, font features, annotation storage, and more.

This post was contributed by Donna Scott, who writes about the online school. She welcomes your feedback at DonnaScott9929

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Distance Between Us by Bart Yates eBook editions

Every once in a while you stumble across a true gem; and The Distance Between Us qualifies as one of those gems.  The book is classified by the Publisher as a GLBT title for reasons I do not understand.  Yes, one of the main characters happens to be gay, but it is hardly the point of the story. 

The story revolves mainly around Hester, a compelling old lady.  Although I am not altogether sure she would appreciate that description.  Because she uses anger to hold the world at bay, she is not exactly a likable character.  An extremely articulate and witty character; but not so likeable.  She is bitter; she drinks to much; she is acerbic and does not suffer fools.

Her children, particularly her daughter, are as hostile and verbally adept as she.  Her ex-husband is just flat out disgusted with her and the circumstances of their divorce.  This is one dysfunctional, unhappy family!

It is an interesting phenomena of life that if the message is right, the messenger hardly matters.  And Alex is a most unlikely messenger.  He is a a bright secretive and troubled young man.  A totally unlikely catalyst for acceptance and forgiveness.

While Heather and her family use words and booze as a way to run away from pain; Alex has actually physically run away from his.  Heather and Alex are two wounded souls who come together and somehow help each other heal.

Yates is a powerful writer.  His characters are finely nuanced and is use of language is exquisite.  But the real power is his writing comes from his ability to inject just the right amount of humor into an otherwise painful story.  The humor makes it readable and memorable long after the last words are read.

This is an amazing story!  Check it out for yourself!

Here is the publisher synopsis:

Hester Parker resides in an elegant Victorian house in the town of Bolton, Illinois. She spends her evenings listening to the lush tones of Mahler and Chopin, drinking sub-par Merlot, and reflecting on a life that has suddenly fallen apart. At seventy-one, Hester is as brilliant and sharp-tongued as ever, capable of inspiring her music students to soaring heights or reducing them to tears with a single comment. But her wit can't hide the bitterness that comes with losses:  the loss of her renowned violinist husband, Arthur Donovan, who left her for another woman, and the loss of her career as a concert pianist after injuring her wrist.

When Hester decides to rent out the attic apartment to Alex, a young college student, she has no idea of the impact he will have on her life and her family. Good-natured and awkward, with secrets of his own, Alex becomes an unlikely confidant and a means of reconnecting with the world outside Hester's window. But his presence also exposes old memories and grief that Hester has tried to bury. Over the course of one remarkable month, Hester will confront angry accusations, long-hidden jealousies, and the inescapable truth that tore her family apart and might, against all odds, help reconcile them again. And her brief friendship with Alex will leave each with a surprising legacy -- acceptance of the past, a seed of comfort in the present, and hope for the future, wherever it may lead.

"Absorbing. . .brims with quiet intensity."--Publishers Weekly

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bowker's "2008 U.S. Book Consumer Demographics and Buying Behaviors Annual Report"

Bowker (the company that distributes and assign ISBN numbers to books) and Publisher's Weekly (the biggest publishing industry magazine) have released a new report about consumer book purchases and reading habits. For a mere $1000, you can buy and read the whole report. For the rest of us there is the press release.

The press release notes that eBooks and digital publishing are the bright notes in an otherwise dim industry outlook. The also offer the following info:

  • 57% of book buyers are women yet women purchase 65% of the books sold in the U.S.
  • Mystery books are the most popular genre for book club sales, with 17% of all purchases of mystery books coming directly from book clubs
  • Generation X consumers buy more books online than any other demographic group, with 30% of them buying their books through the Internet
  • 21% of book buyers said they became aware of a book through some sort of online promotion or ad
  • Women made the majority of the purchases in the paperback, hardcover and audio-book segments
  • Men accounted for 55% of e-book purchases

Monday, July 27, 2009

World eBook Fair Top 20 eBooks

The World eBook Fair has been tracking what people download and here are the preliminary results in order of popularity:

1       Emma, By Jane Austen
2       Linux Complete Command
3       Little Woman, by Lousia May Alcott
4       Nostromo, by Joseph Conrad.
5       Workbook in Higher Algebra
6       A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
7       A Journey to the Center of the Earth, by Jules Verne
8       The Decameron, by Giovanni Boccaccio
9       Overview of Servlets and JavaServer
10      RedHat Linux Unleashed
11      Win XP Pro
12      Cousin Bette, by Honore de Balzac
13      The Beautiful Book Of Nursery Rhymes, by Frank Adams
14      Workbook in Higher Algebra
15      C+ Programming
16      MY SQL manual
17      Colonel Chabert, by Honore de Balzac
18      The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes, by  Arthur Conan Doyle
19      The Art of War, by Sun Tzu
20      The Time Machine, by Herbert George Wells

This is a fascinating mix of literature and technology. I am sure there there is a message or at the very least some interesting conclusions to be drawn from looking at this list.  I am still trying to figure them out.  Any ideas?

In the meantime remember this:

eBooks About Everything and the World eBook Fair are offering a 15% discount on any book in the store. Remember that new books and the best sellers are already discounted 10% which means a 25% discount on those categories.

Just use this coupon code at check out -- z9WebF4

Friday, July 24, 2009

Amazon Apology -- the Final Chapter in this Particular Saga

amazon logo Jeff Bezos -- in an effort to close the book on the Amazon deletion of books on the Kindle -- issued a "deep apology" yesterday.

. . . the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle.  Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

Now maybe we can all get back to actually reading. . . Tags: ,,,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Wild Water Walking Club by Claire Cook eBook edition

Wild Water Walking Club falls into the category of a great beach read.  This is the fourth Claire Cook title I have enjoyed, starting with Must Love Dogs and Summer BlowoutShe is an entertaining author who understands the complexities and inherent contradictions between love, good sense and human behavior.

One of the things I enjoy most about her books is that even though the usual heroines are middle aged women, there are always an eclectic blend of multi-generational characters.  These kids, young women, middle aged and seniors interact and create a comfortable mix,

Another aspect of her writing that I always enjoy is here ability to mix totally believable story lines with a couple that stretch credibility.  And yet they somehow work together.  Probably because you sense that she is more interested in the characters than in some carefully derived plot line.

I am a daily walker -- walk from 2 to 3 1/2 miles a day.  A more or less useless urban ritual to keep me fit and clears my head.  But all those miles never really seem to add up to anything tangible.  These women counted steps and miles and made them count for a concrete goal -- a trip across country.

I love the idea of walking to a goal.  The smell of lavender makes me happy.  But the whole clothesline thing seemed out of place and kind of lost me.  I admit, however, that it makes for a very funny urban guerilla scene later in the book.

I am seriously considering where I want to "walk" to this year.  I'll keep you posted.

Here is the publishers recap:

Just put one foot in front of the other. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when Noreen Kelly takes a buyout from her job of eighteen years and gets dumped by her boyfriend in one fell swoop, she finds it hard to know what that next step is—never mind take it. At first Noreen thinks maybe her redundancy package could be an opportunity, a chance to figure out what to do with the rest of her life while her company foots the bill. Sure, she may have gotten high to “Witchy Woman” and grooved to “Sweet Baby James” back when James Taylor had hair, but she isn’t ready for her AARP card. Not yet.

But it’s the first time in a great many years that Noreen has time to herself—and she has no idea what to do with it. When she realizes that she’s mistaken her resume for her personality, Noreen knows that she has to get moving, so she puts on a new pair of sneakers and a seriously outdated pair of exercise pants, and walks. She doesn’t get very far at first—just to the end of her street, Wildwater Way—but she perseveres, and when she’s joined by her neighbors Tess and Rosie, Noreen realizes that walking is not an extreme sport. It can actually be fun.

As the Wildwater women walk and talk, and talk and walk, they tally their steps, share their secrets, and learn what women everywhere are finding out—that time flies and getting fit is actually fun when you’re walking with friends. Throw in a road trip to Seattle for a lavender festival, a career-coaching group that looks like a bad sequel to The Breakfast Club, a clothesline controversy that could only happen in the ’burbs, plenty of romantic twists and turns, and a quirky multigenerational cast of supporting characters, and the result is an experience that’s heartfelt, exuberant, and above all, real.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Amazon Kindle Agreement

legal money I mentioned the agreement in passing yesterday.  Later in the day I stumble upon this great blog piece that is an annotated version of the Kindle license agreement

Stowe Boyd does a great job of taking the agreement apart and explaining it in plain English.  He concludes:

This is an enormous mess for Bezos and Amazon, and the license agreement is not going to protect them from their misdeeds.

Probably not good news for Amazon because class action law firm KamberEdelson is looking at suing Amazon for removing books from the Kindle. 

Jay Edelson "says he intends to argue that the recall infringes on consumers' property rights. He will also argue that Amazon's ability to delete books makes the Kindle less valuable to consumers, who believed they were purchasing a device that would allow them to store books forever. Edelson says he intends to seek to represent all Kindle owners in the case against Amazon."

This is so much fun to watch!  Stay tuned. . . Tags: ,,,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Big Brother and the Kindle

Irony is my most favorite form of humor!  And last week Amazon provided me with a great "laugh out loud" funny moment.

Seems that Kindle owners who bought copies of 1984 and Animal Farm woke up one morning to find that Amazon had deleted their copies.  No notice; no indication that anything was wrong.  They just remotely zapped the copy of the book off the machine.

Someone (I can't remember who or find the quote) noted that this would be like Barnes and Nobles coming into your house in the middle of the night and stealing back books you bought from them.

Which of course made me curious about the actual Amazon Kindle User Licence Agreement.  I actually went to the source and read it.  Lots of legalize, intended, I am sure, to confuse the average person.  But there are a few thing in actual English.

One of them is this sentence:  "Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times..."

Now if you are me and you see the word permanent, you figure it means unchangeable, enduring and everlasting.  And I would further opine that my purchase was a purchase of real intellectual property even if it is in bits and bytes and not between covers.  Evidently Amazon (and their lawyers) think differently.  

The whole concept of someone being able to delete electronic material you have paid for (at will) is pretty scary and brings up legitimate questions about eBook ownership; but the fact that it was 1984 that got zapped is truly delicious!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Solar Powered eBooks?

Ubergizmo is reporting that Neoluxiim is talking about integrating a solar cell into their newest eInk products.

They are promoting it as an advertising device; not an eBook device. It is inevitable, however, that eBooks will eventually be run on solar power.

This particular offering has a got-cha built in. Seems that the device dies after 18 months. Now there is a great example obsolescence if I ever saw one.

Solar is green -- very nice. The eighteen month life cycle more than wipes out any benefit when you think about the electronic waste involved. What are they thinking????????


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