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????????

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Everyone She Loved: 'A Novel by Curran, Sheila eBook edition

It is always nice to see a writer improve their skills and abilities!  Sheila Curran  has done it with Everyone She Loved.  Her last book Diana Lively is Falling Down was a fun read and you could see that this was a writer with potential.

The part about Diana Lively is Falling Down that I really liked best was her ability to create fully dimensional, complex characters that practically walked off the page into my living room. These characters had complex and surprising inner (and outer) lives that somehow made sense even when they shouldn't have.

Everyone She Loved shows that Curran's skill at characterization is still in tact and that her ability to plot a story has markedly improved.  Her characters still make sense; even when they shouldn't.  She is beginning to live up to her full potential as an author. 

This is an intricately plotted novel with at least eight distinct story lines interwoven through out the book.  And happily, Curran actually resolves all of them by the end.  And if that is not enough, she manages to take a bunch of basically very unlikable people, in wildly unlikely circumstances and makes you care about them and what happens to them.  That in and of it's self is an amazing feat!

The premise that a rich, neurotic philanthropist would somehow arrange for all of her friends to either work for her foundation or move into the town her family "owns" is a little strange.  The idea that her husband would agree to having her friends could pick his next wife in the event of her demise is implausible.  The idea that her British cousins somehow gain unfettered access to the foundation is unlikely.  But somehow, against all odds, the story works. 

Mostly the characters are self involved and clueless.  A couple are downright despicable. But they are fully developed and much like watching a train wreck -- you can't stop watching; or in this case, reading.  The character's actually pulled me through the plot twists and turns. 

If you are looking for an engrossing read, start here.

A wise and triumphant novel about four women who've come of age together only to discover that -- when it comes to the essentials -- life's little instruction book will always need revising.

Penelope Cameron, loving mother, devoted wife and generous philanthropist, has convinced her husband and four closest friends to sign an outlandish pact. If Penelope should die before her two daughters are eighteen, her husband will not remarry without the permission of Penelope's sister and three college roommates. For years, this contract gathers dust until the unthinkable happens.

Suddenly, everyone she loved must find their way in a world without Penelope.For Lucy Vargas, Penelope's best friend, and a second mother to her daughters, nothing seems more natural than to welcome them into a home that had once belonged to their family, a lovely, sprawling bed-and-breakfast on the beach. This bequest was only one of the many ways in which Penelope had supported Lucy's career as a painter, declaring her talent too important to squander. But now, in the wake of a disaster that only lovable, worrisome Penelope could have predicted, Lucy has put her work on hold as she and Penelope's husband, Joey, blindly grasp at anything that will keep the girls from sinking under the weight of their grief.With the help of family and friends, the children slowly build new lives. But just when things start to come together, the fragile serenity they have gained is suddenly threatened from within, and the unbreakable bonds they share seem likely to dissolve after all.

In this entertaining and uplifting novel, Sheila Curran explores the faith one woman placed in her dearest friends, the care she took to protect her family and the many ways in which romantic entanglements will confound and confuse even the most determined of planners. A story about growing up and moving on, about the sacrifices people make for one another and the timeless legacy of love, Everyone She Loved is, above all, about the abiding strength of friendship.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The eBook Reading Device Mystery solved

kindle mystery Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about eBooks and how they are priced.

But the statement that really caught my attention wasn't about pricing at all. It was a prediction by Sarah Rotman Epps:

Ms. Epps, the Forrester analyst, estimates that by year end there will be more than three million dedicated e-reader devices in the U.S., with two million sold in 2009.

All of the press about the Kindle makes it sound like they are flying off the shelves and in fact almost everyone has one. Of course, I have yet to see one in real life. . . Until now I have just chalked it up to a vague idea that maybe I am just too sheltered; don't get out enough.

But this article has made me actually sit down and do the math.

The estimated US population in 307 million. An estimate three million devices means that approximately .01% of the population will own one by the end of the year. No wonder I haven't seen one yet!

Monday, July 13, 2009

eBooks and the iTouch

I finally broke down.  Gave in.  Sold out. It was an offer too good to refuse and within minutes I was the proud owner of an iTouch (for about 1/2 the retail price). 

Like most techy geeks, I have been fascinated by the iPhone/iTouch since it first appeared.  This is a little strange because I may be the only person in America who hated my iPod.  I never could make the thing work right. . . Evidently click wheels and I were not made to co-exist on the same planet.  But I digress.

I have held out for months.  After all, I need another gadget like I need another hole in my head.  My Verizon family plan is cheap.  AT&T doesn't work well in my area anyway.  So as fascinated as I have been, I've managed to remain strong.  Although I have played with any iPhone/iTouch I could get my hands on.  But in a moment of weakness, and with an offer too good to refuse, I caved.

This is an amazing piece of technology.  I have used PDAs of all descriptions for years and years and this is hands down the easiest to use.  My biggest general complaint is that my fingers are a little big for the keyboard.  I spend a lot of time backspacing and starting over.

It didn't take long to sign in to the iTunes store and find the iTunes Aps.  From there it was a short search to find the eReader eBook software and get it downloaded to my iTouch.  Talk about easy!  It was the easiest installation ever.  I think it was even easier than getting it on my PC the first time.

Once it was loaded I went looking for the eBooks About Everything store.  Aside from the fact it was the first time I had typed it; it was easy.  My problem was the fat finger thing. 

The store opened right up;  I used my thumb and fore finger to enlarge it enough to see; went to my wish list and hit the Buy this item Now button.  Picked the version of the book in "Palm Pilot" format and added it to my cart.  Hit the Process Order button.  At that point I had to put in my user name and password and added my card's CID number.  And then waited a few seconds to be told the transaction had completed and that the book was on my bookshelf.

Went over to my Bookshelf.  The book was at the top of the list.  Hit the Download button and the book began downloading.  Within seconds I was opening the book, adding my name and password info (credit card number).  And I was able to start reading my new book.

Wow!  That was the most painless eBook transaction to a PDA ever!!!  And I mean EVERY!!

The reading experience can be customized in many different ways -- font, font size, screen appearance etc.  All very easy and intuitive.  The screen is small, but crisp and easy to read. 

The big difference in reading on this and any other PDA is that instead of pressing a button to turn the pages you flick the right corner with your finger and the page "turns".  The turning is more of a scooting motion; as if you were sliding the old page back to revel a new one.  I find this VERY annoying!  Not sure if it is because it is new or because it is really truly irritating -- time will tell.  For someone who reads very fast, and needs "largish" font size you spend an inordinate amount of time flicking and adjusting your eyes to the new page.  The annoyance is certainly worth it to have a book handy all the time with minimal weight and hassle. 

For long immersive reading my Cybook is hands down a better solution.  But it is one more electronic device to worry about and by comparison it is big a bulky.  I certainly won't be giving it up any time soon, but the iTouch is a nice addition. . .

All of this has left me, however,  with a bigger dilemma then ever.  Can I really live a happy life without an iPhone?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sullivan's Island and Return to Sullivan's Island -- eBooks by Dorothea Benton Frank

Dorthea Benton Frank is a southern writer.  Her works have been compared to Pat Conroy and Anne Rivers Siddons.  Nine years ago, those comparisons lead me to pick up her first book Sullivan's Island.  I loved it. 

The publisher synopsis really doesn't capture the magic of her writing or the powerful back story about her family, South Carolina and desegregation. 

Set in the steamy, stormy landscape of South Carolina, Sullivan's Island tells the unforgettable story of one woman's courageous journey toward truth.

Born and raised on idyllic Sullivan's Island, Susan Hayes navigated through her turbulent childhood with humor, spunk, and characteristic Southern sass. But years later, she is a conflicted woman with an unfaithful husband, a sometimes resentful teenage daughter, and a heart that aches with painful, poignant memories. And as Susan faces her uncertain future, she realizes that she must go back to her past. To the beachfront house where her sister welcomes her with open arms. To the only place she can truly call home.

When I read last year that Frank was writing an sequel Return to Sullivan's Island, I immediately added it to my summer reading list. Then I started think about the original book, Sullivan's Island.  I realized that my memory was pretty hazy; so hazy that it would make sense to re-read the book.

Actually, it turned out to be a good/bad decision. 

The good part is that Sullivan's Island is well written, engrossing and I would have missed some of the subtleties of the Return if I had not reread it. It was as much fun to reread as it had been to read. 

The bad part is that in the Return to Sullivan's Island the plot and the writing were definitely not up to the same standard.  I actually found myself wishing that she had not returned.  Or at least not in this particular fashion.  I found the return was incredibly disappointing and stretching my credulity beyond it's normal limits. 

I'm not sure it would have been so disappointing if I had read the books separately or if I had never read Frank before.  Return to Sullivan's Island is an "OK" beach read; it is mindless reading that will keep you entertained for several hours.  Great literature it is not.  Sullivan's Island on the other hand is recommended reading for the beach or anywhere else you happen to be!


Dorothea Benton Frank returns to the enchanted landscape of South Carolina's Lowcountry made famous in her beloved New York Times bestseller Sullivans Island to tell the story of the next generation of Hamiltons and Hayes.

Newly graduated from college and an aspiring writer, Beth Hayes craves independence and has a world to conquer. But her notions of travel, graduate study, and writing the great American novel will have to be postponed. With her mother, Susan, leaving to fulfill her own dreams in Paris and her Aunt Maggie, Uncle Grant, and stepfather, Simon, moving to California, Beth is elected by her elders to house-sit the Island Gamble.

Surrounded by the shimmering blue waters of the Atlantic, the white clapboards, silver tin roof, and confessional porch have seen and heard the stories of generations of Hamiltons. But will the ghosts of the Island Gamble be watching over Beth? Buoyed by sentimental memories of growing up on this tiny sandbar that seems to be untouched by time, Beth vows to give herself over to the Lowcountry force and discover the wisdom it holds. She will rest, rejuvenate, and then reenter the outside world. Just as she vows she will never give into the delusional world of white picket fences, minivans, and eternal love, she meets Max Mitchell. And all her convictions and plans begin to unravel with lightning speed. There is so much about life and her family's past that she does not know. Her ignorance nearly costs her both her inheritance and her family's respect. But Beth finds unexpected friends to help her through the disaster she faces: her wise and charming Aunt Sophie; Cecily Singleton, the granddaughter of Livvie Singleton; and Woody Morrison, the solid young investment banker.

This wonderful ensemble of characters could be your own family, but watch what unfolds as they succumb to the island's spell. If everything happens for a reason, then Beth's return to Sullivans Island teaches her that betrayal and tragedy are most easily handled when you surround yourself with loyal family and friends in a magical place that loves you so much that it wants to claim you as its own.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Bookeen Reader Soon -- The Opus

Bookeen, the maker of the Cybook, are showing off thier new reader called the Opus. Shown below is a picture that compares the current Cybook with the New Opus. Was originally supposed to be available in June . . .

MobileRead lists the new specs below:

  • 5" high definition e-ink screen (200dpi, 600x800 pixels)
  • Ultra light-weight : 150 grammes.
  • 1go internal memory (twice the capacity of the Cybook Gen3)
  • Truly pocket-sized !
  • Excellent ergonomy with convenient well-placed page-turning buttons on the side of the screen for one-handed use.
  • An accelerometer allows you to use it in either hand.
  • ePUB and PDF support (with or without DRM) via the Adobe Reader Mobile SDK. 12 different type sizes
  • Folder support !
  • User replaceable battery.
  • Memory card expansion slot (Micro SD).

Here are a lot more pictures (and more info if you read french)

Looks like an interesting alternative. Stay tuned for actual release date and pricing.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

World eBook Fair 2009

Once again eBooks About Everything is proud to be a sponser of the World eBook Fair.

The World eBook Fair is the brain child of Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenburg. Four years ago he enlisted our involvement and we have been great supporters since.

The Fair has thousands of free books and books for sale. 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 catagories.

Just use this coupon code at check out -- z9WebF4

Sunday, June 28, 2009

You or Someone Like You by Chandler Burr

This is a fascinating book that explores the limits of culture and identity. It is a book that I wanted to like. In fact, tried very hard to like. But whether or not I liked it is almost beside the point. Because in the end this is a book that (if you persist to the end) will stick with you. It is one that you will find yourself thinking about for a long time to come.

Chandler Burr is an intelligent and skilled writer. His books on perfumes are informative, well-researched and interesting. When I heard that he had a new fiction title, I was curious to see if he could bring those qualities to fiction and still make the book work.

You or Someone Like You is a truly literary novel; informative, well-researched and interesting. Since I had an excellent British education I am familiar with most of the authors and many of the works written about. Many of them quite obscure and a lot of them poetry.

After a while it dawned on me that to really appreciated this book you need either a better memory than I have or a PhD in English literature. Yes, it is beautifully written, but it is hard work. Highly intellectual and quite enigmatic. Frankly I was almost stiff with boredom about half way through.

Fortunately I persisted -- the advantage of being stubborn, I guess. When Burr finally gets to the issues of religion, culture and identity the story once again engaged my interest and not just my intellect.

Read the synopsis below and if you interest is peaked, read a short excerpt and decide for yourself.

Anne Rosenbaum leads a life of quiet Los Angeles privilege, the wife of Hollywood executive Howard Rosenbaum and mother of their seventeen-year-old son, Sam. Years ago Anne and Howard met studying literature at Columbia-she, the daughter of a British diplomat from London, he a boy from an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Now on sleek blue California evenings, Anne attends halogen-lit movie premieres on the arm of her powerful husband. But her private life is lived in the world of her garden, reading books.

When one of Howard's friends, the head of a studio, asks Anne to make a reading list, she casually agrees-though, as a director reminds her, "no one reads in Hollywood." To her surprise, they begin calling: screen-writers; producers, from their bungalows; and agents, from their plush offices on Wilshire and Beverly. Soon Anne finds herself leading an exclusive book club for the industry elite. Emerging gradually from her seclusion, she guides her readers into the ideas and beauties of Donne, Yeats, Auden, and Mamet, with her brilliant and increasingly bold opinions.

But when a crisis of identity unexpectedly turns an anguished Howard back toward the Orthodoxy he left behind as a young man, Anne must set out to save what she values above all else: her husband's love. At once fiercely intelligent and emotionally gripping, You or Someone Like You confronts the fault lines between inherited faith and personal creed, and, through the surprising transformation of one exceptional, unforgettable woman, illuminates literature's power to change our lives.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

I am a big sucker for books about women's friendships so it is no surprise that I picked up The Girls From Ames.

Forty years of close friendship is no mean feat!  Especially in this day and age when so many of us leave the scenes of our childhoods and build lives so far away. 

Zaslow who co-wrote The Last Lecture and is a regular contributor to the Wall Street Journal is a wonderful writer.  He spent a year getting to know these women.  He Interviewed them and their families, hung out at a reunion, read letters and emails and examined scrapbooks. 

This should be a fabulous book.  It is, actually, a fairly interesting book.  It isn't dreadful or even bad; it just isn't wonderful.  I do not want to diminish the fact that these ten women have remained friends through all of life experience for four decades. And yet, this book was a long slog!

It is impossible to cover forty years and eleven character and do them justice in 300 pages.  After all character and plot are not built by telling story after loosely related story and hoping that some how it will all jell. 

Most of my problem with this book stems from the fact that you never really get to know any one of these women well; never mind all of them.  And they are not individually flamboyant enough to clearly differentiate themselves.  I spent a lot of time going "OK, who exactly is Jenny (or Karen or Karla)."  I finally resorted to making a cheat sheet on an index card that I put next to my table.

My other problem is that I didn't get any real sense of place and time.  In other words, nothing really evoked and emotional response or deep recognition of these women or their particular world either as children or as adults.  There early years took place in a world vastly different than mine.  In a well written story (fiction or non-fiction) the author paints a picture that evokes time, place and circumstances.  In this book; not so much.

Perhaps if you are from Ames, or if you are younger than I you will love this book.  I really wanted to!

As children, they formed a special bond, growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eight different states, yet they managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of their group.

Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the enduring, deep bonds of women as they experience life's challenges, and the power of friendship to overcome even the most daunting odds.

Because they came of age in an era of unprecedented opportunity for women, their story also examines how feminism's major breakthroughs have been seized or wasted, and captures what it was like to be girls in the sixties, to come of age in the seventies and eighties, to be new mothers in the nineties, and enter middle age in the new millennium and how close female relationships can shape every aspect of women's lives. With both universal events and deeply personal moments, it's a book that every woman will relate to and be inspired by.

Monday, May 4, 2009

eBooks, Digital Publications and Publishers

If you wonder why bookstores keep going out of business and why publishers are losing money, here is a clue:

I don't think I've ever heard a reader say: "I want more fancy digital stuff in my eBooks! I want videos and audio and animations!" . . . The publishing business ought to concentrate first on their core value: getting books people love to readers who love them. --- Anonymous "Publishing Professional"

First let me give the guy (I assume it is a guy) credit for the statement that he hasn't heard a reader say they want more "digital stuff" in their books.  This is a depressingly accurate statement.  Readers, the dying breed that still exist probably don't say that.

closed bookstore 

The problem is that there are several generations (GenX,Gen Y, the Millennials and whatever comes next) that have been raised to EXPECT digital stuff (videos and audio and animations and links) as a part of any media they consume.  What would FaceBook, MySpace or even Twitter be without digital stuff?

Sure, they read.  Text will always be with us.  But it is mostly a big stretch to call them readers.  They are in fact consumers and creators of digital stuff

They are not patronizing Borders or Barnes and Nobles.  They are increasing relying on information they download from the Internet.  Much of it free.  Who needs bookstores?

When it comes to publishing the problem is slightly different.  The Internet has enabled almost anyone with something to show, say or sing to publish their work.  This is incredibly artistically liberating.  It is, however, rarely lucrative.  Most of the owners of the intellectual property do not make any money at all. 

As people come to expect more interactive publications there is an unfortunate downside.  Many works of genius may never be commercially viable because the author lacks the skills or the ability to assemble a team. 

This is where Publishers become incredibly important.  Their role in this new world is to find those geniuses, help assemble teams and promote the finished publications.  If  the current batch of publishers want to remain in business they will have to substantially change their outlook and attitude.  I'm rooting for them!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

J.R.R.Tolkien's eBooks Discounted This Week

This week we are discounting all Tolkien's eBooks.  The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings (individually and collectively) and the Children of Hurin.


It took six year to convince the J.R.R. Tolkien's estate to put these great books into eBook format.  That is "more than half as long as the author needed to complete his Lord of the Rings trilogy" according to the Associated Press (via USA Today).

"The Tolkien estate wanted to be absolutely confident that e-books were not something ephemeral," said David Brawn, publishing operations director at HarperCollins UK. "We were finally able to convince the Tolkien estate that the e-book is a legitimate, widespread format."

It's simple:

Monday, April 27, 2009

eBook And Publishing News . . .And Spring Fever

Most days I sit down to write this blog and the biggest problem I have is narrowing it down to just one or two topics.  This week, for some unknown reason, I haven't been able to find anything interesting enough to write about.

I seem to be in some sort of spring fever state which makes it impossible to focus on any of the list of possible topics:

Not one of them really caught fire with me this week; but PLEASE check them out for yourself.  There is some really interesting stuff going on I'm just too fevered to fix on anything!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout eBook edition

Olive Kitteridge may be the most honored book of 2008.  People, USA Today, The Washington Post Book World and even The Wall Street Journal named it the best book of 2008.  And then, early this week Olive Kitteridge was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

I decided, what the hell, why not give it another try.  I say another try because this book has been on my eReader for quite a while.

In fact I have read the first chapter at least three times.  Each time I hope that this will be THE time that I become engrossed and read more. . .

It would seem that this is a book I should love.  Elizabeth Strout is an amazing writer.  Amy and Isabelle is one of my all time favorite books.  This is a collection of thirteen loosely related stories about people and their humanity.  The language is beautiful and the characters are full bodied and three dimensional, the insights profound. 

So I tried again. 

This time I skipped the first chapter.  I thought maybe the problem was reading about Henry and his low level depression.  Perhaps it was the weight of his isolation and loneliness that put me off.  This time I started with Chapter 2: "Incoming Tide."  In this cheery chapter the low level depression has ratcheted up to actual suicidal depression. 

Third time is the charm right?  So I skipped over to the chapter entitled "Tulips."  I figured a story about those beautiful spring flowers had to be a little more cheerful.  I was wrong.

The writing IS beautiful.  The descriptions are vivid and often stark.  The characters fully dimensional and perhaps even sympathetic is some sort of way.  All of that is true.  And yet, one more time, I put the books down with a big sigh.  I just couldn't do it.

Perhaps I am just perverse.  Maybe it is my mood.  Maybe I just have no class. Whatever the reason I could not get into this book and stay there. 

Make up you own mind by reading a sample.  And then let me know what you think. 

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

eBook Discounts for Earth Day

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You might notice a theme here. . . All of us at eBooks About Everything are all about Green. . . not just today (Earth Day) but all year long. To celebrate we are giving a 10% discount this week on any eBook in the store. Use coupon code EARTH09 to get your discount at checkout. No more books on dead trees.
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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Green Careers eBook edition
by Parks, Barbara
The career opportunities of the future ? Green-collar jobs are on the rise according to Businessweek magazine. The Green Jobs Act of 2007 anticipates a growing labor need for thousands of green-collar workers with $125 million in annual funding for training and research.
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List Price : $14.95
Your price $11.51 (Using your 10% discount and $ .61 points in eBook Reward points)
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Shamus in the Green Room eBook Edition
by Kandel, Susan
Los Angeles writer Cece Caruso is thrilled that her biography of the legendary Dashiell Hammett is headed for the big screen. When the dead body shows up neither the ""facts"" nor the hunky star's alibi add up—Cece might end up pulling the plug on the movie—if someone doesn't pull the plug on Cece first.
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List Price : $14.95
Your price $12.78 (Using your 10% discount and $ .67 iin eBook Reward points)
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Haley's Hints Green Edition: 1000 Great Tips to Save Time, Money, and the Planet! eBook edition
by Haley, Graham, Haley, Rosemary
A budget-friendly, time-saving collection of green ideas. Because Mother Earth never wrote a guide for humans on caring for her, the authors of Haley¿s Hints now offer a collection of Earth-friendly tips for around the house
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List Price : $14.00
Your price $10.77 (Using your 10% discount and $ .57 in eBook Reward points)
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Before Green Gables eBook edition
by Wilson, Budge
A must-read for generations of book lovers. This remarkable, and heart-warming prequel to the classic Anne of Green Gables was specially authorized by L.M. Montgomery's heirs to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the publication of the original novel.
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List Price : $22.95
Your price $19.62 (Using your 10% discount and $1.03 in eBook Reward points)
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The Gorgeously Green Diet (Mobipocket) eBook edition
by Uliano, Sophie
Sophie shows how to lovefood, live healthily, lose weight, and save money and the planet.Uliano offers three different lean and green eating plans: Light Green,Bright Green, and Deep Green. Each offers a cornucopia of the healthiestand most gorgeous food you've ever eaten.
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List Price : $25.95
Your price $22.19 (Using your 10% discount and $1.17 in eBook Reward points)
Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us

Monday, April 20, 2009

As April Comes to An End -- Celebrate Reading!

April ends with two notable reading initiatives for you to check out. You won't be disappointed!

READ WITH KIDS -- Last year I wrote a longish piece on an organization called Reading is Fundamental (RIF). RIF is the oldest child literacy program in the US. There current drive is to log 5 million minutes spent reading to kids. Love of books and reading is perhaps the greatest gift you can give a child. So here's the deal: for a second year, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and US Airways are working together to help children nationwide discover the joy of reading. Starting April, adults are invited to join the 2009 Read with Kids Challenge and help collectively log 5 million minutes spent reading with kids. You’ll have the chance of winning a family vacation to the Walt Disney World Resort® and more great prizes. Get on board!

UNESCO WORLD BOOK DAY -- 23 April: The idea for this celebration originated in Catalonia where on 23 April, Saint George's Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold. The success of the World Book and Copyright Day will depend primarily on the support received from all parties concerned (authors, publishers, teachers, librarians, public and private institutions, humanitarian NGOs and the mass media), who have been mobilized in each country by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, and by all those who feel motivated to work together in this world celebration of books and authors.


This is a symbolic date for world literature for on this date and in the same year of 1616, Cervantes, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega all died. It is also the date of birth or death of other prominent authors such as Maurice Druon, K.Laxness, Vladimir Nabokov, Josep Pla and Manuel Mejía Vallejo. It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. Lee

The Piano Teacher is complicated, eloquent, haunting and thought provoking.   Not one of the characters is particularly sympathetic, never mind likable.  The story jumps between decades with wild abandon.  The plot is violent and explores the highly disturbing, damaging nature of war and its aftermath.  It is the story of love and ultimate betrayal.

If that sounds negative, than consider my other observations. Janice Lee's portrayal of Hong Kong are so vivid you can almost smell and hear the market place. The description of life in Colonies is pitch perfect; the gossip, the intrigue and the boredom. The language is eloquent.  The plot is carefully constructed. The character development is extraordinary.

The story presents two snapshots of life in Hong Kong.  The snapshots are ten years apart. Life before the war life is circumscribed by social status and ritual.  The Europeans, especially the English have created their own alternative universe right on the top of Victoria Peak.

Once the war is over the survivors (of both the war and the occupation) are deeply scarred.  They emerge forever changed by the circumstances of incarceration. starvation and torture.  And yet, apparently nothing much has changed.  Life has more or less picked up exactly where it left off.  The colony is back in business and the rigid social structures and rituals have survived. 

Claire Pendleton, the piano teacher, provides a stark contrast between the cynicism of the old and the naivety of the new.  In the end, she effectively provides a focus and a rather harrowing catharsis.

This book is a real hybrid; part historical fiction, part romance and part mystery.  I suspect you will either love or hate it.  I, personally, loved it.

In the sweeping tradition of The English Patient, a gripping tale of love and betrayal set in war-torn Hong Kong

In 1942, Will Truesdale, an Englishman newly arrived in Hong Kong, falls headlong into a passionate relationship with Trudy Liang, a beautiful Eurasian socialite. But their love affair is soon threatened by the invasion of the Japanese as World War II overwhelms their part of the world. Will is sent to an internment camp, where he and other foreigners struggle daily for survival. Meanwhile, Trudy remains outside, forced to form dangerous alliances with the Japanese in particular, the malevolent head of the gendarmerie, whose desperate attempts to locate a priceless collection of Chinese art lead to a chain of terrible betrayals.

Ten years later, Claire Pendleton comes to Hong Kong and is hired by the wealthy Chen family as their daughter's piano teacher. A provincial English newlywed, Claire is seduced by the heady social life of the expatriate community. At one of its elegant cocktail parties, she meets Will, to whom she is instantly attracted¿but as their affair intensifies, Claire discovers that Will's enigmatic persona hides a devastating past. As she begins to understand the true nature of the world she has entered, and long-buried secrets start to emerge, Claire learns that sometimes the price of survival is love.

Read an excerpt here

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

eBook Discounts for April 15, 2009

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At least a few of us have been watching TV, some have read my blog, a few are headed to the future and at least a few are looking for a man.

Use Coupon code DH59Y at checkout to get these discounts.

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Always Looking Up eBook edition
by Fox, Michael J.
There are many words to describe Michael J. Fox: Actor. Husband. Father. Activist. But readers of Always Looking Up will soon add another to the list: Optimist. Michael writes about the hard-won perspective that helped him see challenges as opportunities. Instead of building walls around himself, he developed a personal policy of engagement and discovery. . .
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List Price : $19.95
Your price $15.36 (Using your 10% discount and $ .81 points in eBook Reward points)
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Tribute eBook Edition
by Roberts, Nora
Virginia's Shenandoah Valley is a long way from Hollywood. And that's exactly how Cilla McGowan wants it. Cilla, a former child star who has found more satisfying work as a restorer of old houses, has come to her grandmother's farmhouse, tools at her side, to rescue it from ruin. Sadly, no one was able to save her grandmother, the legendary Janet Hardy. . .
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List Price : $26.95
Your price $21.33 (Using your 10% discount and $1.12 in eBook Reward points)
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The Code of Love eBook edition
by Linklater, Andro
Andro Linklater skillfully weaves the many fascinating parts of this tale together into an unforgettable narrative. From the mesmerizing siege of Hong Kong, to the romantic roller coaster of a truly great love, to the unbelievable efforts of the mathematician who finally cracked the encoded diary, The Code of Love is storytelling at its very finest.
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List Price : $16.00
Your price $13.68 (Using your 10% discount and $ .72 in eBook Reward points)
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Buyout eBook edition
by Irvine, Alexander
One hundred years from now, with Americans hooked into an Internet far more expansive and intrusive than today’s, the world has become a seamless market-driven experience. In this culture of capitalism run amok, entrepreneurs and politicians faced with rampant overcrowding in the nation’s penal system turn to a controversial new method of cutting costs: life-term buyouts.
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List Price : $14.00
Your price $11.97 (Using your 10% discount and $ .63 in eBook Reward points)
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All the Rules eBook edition
by Fein, Ellen
The two bestselling phenomenons now together. First, The Rules I, has time-tested techniques for finding the man of your dreams. Controversial and effective, these 35 rules changed millions of women's lives all over the world. In their sensational sequel, The Rules II, the authors showed readers how they could follow The Rules in even the most difficult situations
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List Price : $9.99
Your price $8.54 (Using your 10% discount and $ .45 in eBook Reward points)

Our guarantee: If you have bought one of these titles from eBooks About in the last 15 days -- we will gladly offer you a rebate on the book; just contact us


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