eBooks About Families

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Code of Love by Andro Linklater

Astonishing, amazing, remarkable, and incredible, all apply to Linklater's The Code Of Love. You could add fascinating, riveting, captivating and engrossing.  This is a true story that is a romance, a war story and a mystery all rolled into one. 

Linklater moves seamlessly between the story of Pamela and Donald Hill's romance, Donald's horrific war story as a prisoner of war and the saga of decoding Donald's journal. 

The early part of the book makes you feel as if you are living in England in the early 1940s.  He paints a picture of daily life that is vibrant and clear. 

He is equally clear when describing the world of ciphers and codes.  In easily accessible language he tells the story of Philip Aston's attempts to break the code.  This part of the story is fascinating all by its self.  An added impact comes from the realization of just how brilliant and disciplined Donald had to have been to create and use  such a code. 

In many ways this is a book that broke my heart.  Donald's fight for survival was heroic.  I marveled at his sheer determination and grit.   The courage it took to hold his mind and body together under appalling conditions and dreadful psychological trauma is almost unbelievable. He should have had a happy ending. . .Lord knows, he deserved it.

And yet, it was not to be.  He obviously suffered from a severe case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which was unnamed and untreatable. In many ways his struggle to create a normal life, medicate himself with alcohol and bury the trauma are even more courageous than his basic survival.

If his story were not so familiar today I might have been able to shake it off.  But over the last few days I have thought about the veterans of the current war.  It is shameful that with all the information we have about PTSD our veterans are still untreated. They too, must struggle to create a normal life, medicate themselves and bury their trauma.  What a miserable statement about our society!

Reading this book, however, will remind you of what really matter in life: the power of love.  If you don't read another book this year, read this one!

An astonishing true tale of secrets, love, and war.

Pamela Kirrage, beautiful and impulsive, met and fell in love with the dashing RAF pilot Donald Hill just months before Hill was shipped off to the Far East to protect the British colonies against Japanese aggression. They exchanged rings the day before he left, a promise to marry as soon as he returned. Little did they know that five years would pass before they saw each other again.

The Code of Love tells the stirring tale of Donald's experiences in the front lines of the Pacific Theater and Pamela's war efforts back in England in a dramatic, deeply moving portrayal of the World War II era and its aftermath. On the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, they also moved into Hong Kong, where Donald had the misfortune to be part of a small group of officers in charge of a meager five planes. He spent the rest of the war in a POW camp, keeping a journal of the indignities he faced in complex, nearly unbreakable code. Meanwhile, Pamela was swept into the frantic swirl of a wartime society eager to live to the fullest. She cooked meals for secret agents and danced the nights away with handsome soldiers. But her love for Donald never altered, and the two married within weeks of Donald's release at the end of the war. The scars Hill bore from his years of emotional encoding would eventually wear away at their relationship, though never their love.

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.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Revolutionary Road eBook edition

When I was in college, Revolutionary Road was one of those books that was considered de rigeur for anyone with intellectual pretensions.  Reading it gave you entrée into an exclusive club dedicated to disparaging the lives our parents lead.

Of course, I read it.

What I remembered was how dreary the book was.  These were dreary characters living in a dreary world.  The had boring, meaningless jobs and lives and were totally unlikable.  Reading it was like being smothered in a thick gray cloud.

So, you can imagine my surprise when the title popped us as a "must see" movie.  And now it is an Awards contender.  I will grudgingly admit that a DiCaprio/Winslett pairing is probably noteworthy, but Revolutionary Road??

Only one thing to do:  I bought and downloaded the book last week.  If nothing else, I wanted to see if my memory was failing.

Well, it turns out my memory was not exactly failing.  But it also turns out that there is a big difference between my young reading self and the adult I turned out to be which should probably be a relief.

What I failed to understand as a young person is the power of Yates' writing.  The vivid and stark simplicity of his narrative, the tight dialog and his quiet, relentless perceptiveness.  My biggest surprise was how humorous some of the dialog really is.  My younger self evidently totally missed that aspect of his writing.

Reading it this time, I actually found myself empathizing with these characters.  I know exactly what it is like to get caught up in a role, how subtly it all happens.  And how you wake up one day and wonder how you got here from there.   That particular theme is timeless -- not some relic of a 50s style American dream.  Surprisingly, the novel is as relevant to life today as it was when it was written.

Revolutionary Road got me to thinking about the subtle ways in which we differentiate ourselves from our circumstances.  The ways in which we hold ourselves above the reality of our daily lives.  And the tyranny of the belief that we are somehow special and different.

My adult self recommends this book for its narrative, dialog and social commentary.  In fact, I am going to got see it tomorrow and find out if Hollywood does it justice.

Here are the publisher notes:

In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs. Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early. Maybe Frank's job is dull. And April never saw herself as a housewife. Yet they have always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. But now that certainty is about to crumble.

With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

From the moment of its publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road was hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs. .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Audacity of Hope eBook edition

It is eerily fitting that the author of The Audacity of Hope was written by a man who had the audacity to run for President of the United States of America. One look at the portrait on the cover told you that his chance to be President was roughly equivalent to the proverbial snowball in hell.

And yet somehow we woke up this morning with "a skinny black kid with a funny name" as the next President of the USA. Unbelievable from where I sit!

It wasn't that long ago (70 years) that the Daughters of the American Revolution refused to allow a "colored" woman to give a concert in their hall. As a side note -- I always find this story the ultimate irony! Women who's ancestors fought and died for freedom actually denying Marian Anderson access to a building! But I digress.

I am old enough to remember Selma and Montgomery and the passage of the Voting Rights Act. I am old enough to have heard Martin Luther King voice his dream.

In those dark days it seemed an impossible dream! Just the idea that his "children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character" was unfathomable. And yet this morning those children will wake up to a country where their Dad's dream has come true!

My Dad used to say that "we are saved by hope." As a teenager I thought it was perhaps the corniest thing I had ever hears. And yet this morning I can't help but think that he was on to something.

After all. what keeps us going in the face of incredible odds? It is sometimes simply the belief in a positive outcome; the feeling we can get what we want or that at the very least everything will turn out for the best.

Hope brings out the best in all of us. Hope is the sometimes the only thing that gets us out of bed in the morning. Hope is the bedrock of the American Dream. And at least for this moment in time, hope reigns in America.

If you haven't done so yet, do yourself a favor and read Barak Obama's message of hope:

In July 2004, Barack Obama electrified the Democratic National Convention with an address that spoke to Americans across the political spectrum. One phrase in particular anchored itself in listeners’ minds, a reminder that for all the discord and struggle to be found in our history as a nation, we have always been guided by a dogged optimism in the future, or what Senator Obama called “the audacity of hope.”

Now, in The Audacity of Hope, Senator Obama calls for a different brand of politics–a politics for those weary of bitter partisanship and alienated by the “endless clash of armies” we see in congress and on the campaign trail; a politics rooted in the faith, inclusiveness, and nobility of spirit at the heart of “our improbable experiment in democracy.” He explores those forces–from the fear of losing to the perpetual need to raise money to the power of the media–that can stifle even the best-intentioned politician. He also writes, with surprising intimacy and self-deprecating humor, about settling in as a senator, seeking to balance the demands of public service and family life, and his own deepening religious commitment.

At the heart of this book is Senator Obama’s vision of how we can move beyond our divisions to tackle concrete problems. He examines the growing economic insecurity of American families, the racial and religious tensions within the body politic, and the transnational threats–from terrorism to pandemic–that gather beyond our shores. And he grapples with the role that faith plays in a democracy–where it is vital and where it must never intrude. Underlying his stories about family, friends, members of the Senate, even the president, is a vigorous search for connection: the foundation for a radically hopeful political consensus.

A senator and a lawyer, a professor and a father, a Christian and a skeptic, and above all a student of history and human nature, Senator Obama has written a book of transforming power. Only by returning to the principles that gave birth to our Constitution, he says, can Americans repair a political process that is broken, and restore to working order a government that has fallen dangerously out of touch with millions of ordinary Americans. Those Americans are out there, he writes–“waiting for Republicans and Democrats to catch up with them.”

del.icio.us Tags: ebook,e-book,obama,hope,the audacity of hope,ebooks about people,new york times best sellers

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Speaking for Myself by Cherie Blair eBook edition

  Do you ever play the game?  You know, the one where you sit around with a bunch of people and talk about which famous (or almost famous) person you would like to sit down and have dinner with?  We play it often.  And in the last few years I have often said, "Cherie Blair."  I just had a feeling . . .

I mean, here is a woman who is married to the Prime Minister of England, works as an attorney (and in this book I found out she is also a judge), has a family and still manages to show up for official functions. 

You can tell from her accent that she isn't exactly "upper crust" and the British Press have a field day reporting on her.  Most of the reporting less than flattering, but somehow managing to show her as a REAL flesh and blood person with a real inner life.

Often these conjectures about people are hilariously off base.  But in Cherie Blair's case they may not be. 

Speaking for Myself is her accounting of her life.  Her telling of her own history is frank, opinionated, unsentimental and humorous.  It is at times a painfully honest account of who she is (and not always to her benefit).

She is a study in contrasts and contradictions.  A high achieving professional and a devoted wife and mother.  A political operator who has a tin ear when it comes to handling people and personalities. A pugnacious defender of her husband who sees him warts and all.  She has tremendous insecurities about money and this drives her to make some very unwise choices.  She is in fact, very human.  I ended up liking her a lot! 

And even if you don't like her much, her "ringseat to history" make this compelling reading. Her recounting of the events, stories about the people and insights into government make it a fascinating read.

Sure, some of the intricacies of the British legal system and Parliamentary maneuverings are dense and to me as an American a little boring.  But her story and her voice will keep you reading.

Here is the publisher's notes:

Even if she hadn't married Tony Blair, Cherie's story would have been amazing. Abandoned by her actor father, she overcame obstacles to become one of the UK's most successful barristers. But when Labour took power in 1997, she faced new challenges: her husband was the first prime minister in recent history with a young family, and Cherie was the first PM's wife with a serious career. Now, she gives a complete account of her own life--an astonishing journey for a woman whose unconventional childhood was full of drama and who grew up with a fierce sense of justice.

In her autobiography she reveals for the first time what it was like to combine life as a working mother with life married to the prime minister. She writes about her encounters with scores of foreign leaders and her friendships with Presidents Clinton and Bush, as well as with Hillary and Laura. And she offers inside details of her relationships with the royals, including Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, and Princess Diana.

del.icio.us Tags: ebook,ebooks,ebooks about people,blair,cherie blair,ebook reviews

Monday, June 23, 2008

All We Ever Wanted Was Everything eBook Edition

If you are interested in a study on how secrets warp relationships and families, this is your book. 

If you want to feel the pain of privilege, by all means read this book.

If you enjoy reading about addiction, denial and keeping up with appearance, then this book was written just for you.

If you want sharp social commentary with a little humor, find another author.

All we Ever Wanted Was Everything is an exercise in wretched excess.  From the multi-million dollar high tech executive's wife to the humorless feminist daughter, the characters are excessive, shallow and unsympathetic. 

I really wanted to like this book. From the blurb it sounded like great fun.  Unfortunately, it was pretty much torture to read.  The writer is about as humorless as the feminist daughter. 

Tell me doesn't sound like a great summer beach read:

When Paul Miller’s pharmaceutical company goes public, making his family IPO millionaires, his wife, Janice, is sure this is the windfall she’s been waiting years for — until she learns, via messengered letter, that her husband is divorcing her (for her tennis partner!) and cutting her out of the new fortune. Meanwhile, four hundred miles south in Los Angeles, the Millers’ older daughter, Margaret, has been dumped by her newly famous actor boyfriend and left in the lurch by an investor who promised to revive her fledgling post-feminist magazine, Snatch. Sliding toward bankruptcy and dogged by creditors, she flees for home where her younger sister Lizzie, 14, is struggling with problems of her own. Formerly chubby, Lizzie has been enjoying her newfound popularity until some bathroom graffiti alerts her to the fact that she’s become the school slut.

The three Miller women retreat behind the walls of their Georgian colonial to wage battle with divorce lawyers, debt collectors, drug-dealing pool boys, mean girls, country club ladies, evangelical neighbors, their own demons, and each other, and in the process they become achingly sympathetic characters we can’t help but root for, even as the world they live in epitomizes everything wrong with the American Dream. Exhilarating, addictive, and superbly accomplished, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything crackles with energy and intelligence and marks the debut of a knowing and very funny novelist, wise beyond her years.

You'd think you would have to love a feminist who actually names here 'zine Snatch.

You'd think that drug dealing pool boys, country club ladies and evangelical neighbors would add (at the very least) great color and a few laughs.

You'd think that a novel about women pulling together would end up being a "feel good" reading adventure.

In all cases you would be wrong.

Obviously, I hated this book!


Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Listen eBook editions

Every now and then I agree to read a friends "must read" book.  I am generally disappointed, but every now and them I am surprised and delighted.

Just Listen was one of those delightful surprises even though I am not a big fan of "coming of age" novels.

Annabel Greene lives in a glass house.  She knows that what you see is very often different than what is real.  Her life is full of examples:

  • She has a loving family and good grades but she is miserable
  • Modeling is not glamorous and fun and she really wants to quit
  • Her beautiful model sister has an eating disorder
  • Her perfect Mom has suffered from crippling depression off and on over the years
  • Her former best friend is convinced that Annabel slept with her boyfriend even when she didn't
  • Owen, the angry loner with whom she shares lunch hour is a sensitive, caring guy who uses his music to cope

She copes by carrying on.  She goes to school, she studies, she does her modeling jobs and tries to cope with her sister's illness.

In her isolation she begins to eat lunch at a table with the other loners and a friendship develops between Owen and her.

Her friendship with Owen and his world view begins to change her view of the world and her place in it.  He teaches her about being honest and finding your own voice.  He teachers her about managing her anger.  He teaches her to appreciate the sound of music, and the blaring loudness of silence.

In the end, Annabel Greene finds her voice and takes charge of her life. 

The characters are fully drawn and finely nuanced.  The story captures the frustration and pain of being almost an adult while carrying a full load of adult secrets.  I wish they had written books like this when I was a teenage!

Here is the publisher's synopsis:

When Annabel, the youngest of three beautiful sisters, has a bitter falling out with her best friend, the popular and exciting Sophie, she suddenly finds herself isolated and friendless. but then she meets Owen, a loner, passionate about music and his weekly radio show, and always determined to tell the truth. And when they develop a friendship, Annabel is not only introduced to new music but is encouraged to listen to her own inner voice. with Owen's help, can Annabel find the courage to speak out about what exactly happened the night her friendship with Sophie came to a screeching halt?

del.icio.us Tags: ebook,.e-book,dessen,just listen,YA fiction

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

There is Hope For Everyone!


'Career Girl's Guide to Becoming a Stepmom' by Jacquelyn B. Fletcher. This is a positive straight-forward handbook and a must-have for any woman contemplating marrying or dating a man with kids. I bought this eBook and gave it to my girlfriend who is also dating a single dad after I read it. I've logged on to buy another copy for myself! This book is perfect for anyone with or without experience of being a stepmom. Fletcher's advice is insightful and "liveable". She can save you heartache and headaches.

'I Am Not My Breast Cancer' by Ruth Peltason. The distillation of wisdom, anger, hope and total honesty of the 800 women involved in the creation of this book is amazing. This eBook will become a key resource for any woman (or man) who has recently been diagnosed with Breast cancer. It will also bring those who have lived with the disease in remission or hence eradicated, with a sense of camaraderie that you rarely glimpse once you are "years out", as we say in the world of survivors. "Thank you, Ms. Peltason, for writing I Am Not My Breast Cancer!" Use the Coupon Code below to receive a Discount on either of these two eBooks.

Career Girl's Guide to Becoming a Stepmo eBook edition by Fletcher, Jacquelyn B.
You have an exciting, fulfilling job. You've fallen in love with the man of your dreams—and met his three kids! Now what? Jacquelyn B. Fletcher shows how any professional woman turned wife and instant stepmother can build on the skills she employs at work—
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I Am Not My Breast Cancer eBook edition by Peltason, Ruth
"I am not my breast, and I am not cancer; they are only pieces of who I am. What is my heart like, am I kind, strong, loving, compassionate. . . . Those are the things that count."
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Buy either of these titles this week, and recieve an extra 5% off your total purchase - so read all you want - these titles and much more await you at eBooksAboutEverything.com!
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