Sunday, May 30, 2010

BOOK: The Age of Persuasion by Terry O'Reilly & Mike Tennant

The Age of Persuasion by Terry O'Reilly & Mike Tennant, 324 pages
How Marketing Ate Our Culture

Nonfiction Five 2010

I've always been secretly fascinated with the field of marketing. Maybe I should have taken a course in university. I often stopped on the distance education channel that broadcast the marketing course. The advertising agency on thirtysomething looked like so much fun. And anytime I've heard the CBC Radio program The Age of Persuasion, hosted by the authors of this book, I've enjoyed it. Terry O'Reilly's distinctive voice and humorous story telling make for a show that is very compelling. There must be podcasts available for anyone interested at CBC Radio - or maybe not, but there is streaming available.

The Age of Persuasion gives a bit of a behind the scene look at the process, a bit of history of advertising during the 20th century, and the development of the advertising industry. Starting with print, then radio, then television and finally internet, plus all the spaces in between where advertising is present. My cynical side doesn't like the feeling that marketing is manipulation, and it is, but it gets out information that we need, and we always have the choice.

Stories of branding (a hot topic in the blogging world as well) Aunt Jemima or Betty Crocker, tales of the Youtube Revolution, the celebrity endorser (with an already out of date look at Tiger Woods) and lots of great stories. For a folksy, charming look at advertising - and it is all around us, bombarding all our senses, The Age of Persuasion is a great read. But don't let my little ad convince you. Do you trust me? Am I a credible source? You have to make up your own mind.

review book from Randomhouse Canada

Saturday, May 29, 2010

BOOK: Out Backward by Ross Raisin

Out Backward by Ross Raisin, 211 pages
this book was published as God's Own Country in England

IMPAC Dublin Shortlisted 2010; A-Zed Title Challenge

Sam Marsdyke is an unlikely narrator, and I felt so sorry for him. Is that the skill of the author, that I felt bad for an extremely disturbed individual? I shouldn't like poor Sam, but the whole situation was sad, and his brain just did not function the way most people's do. I loved the Yorkshire Moors settings - fans of Wuthering Heights who like their love stories twisted should read this.

Sam is working on the family farm with his nasty father and distant mother, after being kicked out of school. A family moves in across the way with a teenager daughter that Sam becomes interested in. Stalkers and psychopaths interpret events differently than regular people, and Sam reads more into several situations than he should. But from his perspective, it really all made sense, and he didn't mean for the things that happened to happen. In some ways, he just didn't know any better.

Sam is mildly educated, and his slang takes a bit of getting used to, but I fell into his dialect easily and it really matched him and his thought processes. Some conversations begin in his head and then continued with real people, or Sam talked with animals that seemed way more real to him than most people. I began to wonder if he really did hear them talk to him. This should have been more confusing than it was, but it really worked in this book. I did wonder if some of the words were Yorkshire dialect or if they were Sam's made up words.

Twenty or thirty red houses, all bright and glishy like a piece of flesh with the skin torn off. Probably that was what the town used to look like, way back, before it started to snarl up and scab over. p 100

At times, I was very worried while reading how the book would turn out, with the potential for violence, but I was satisfied with the ending. I liked this book and thinking of past IMPAC Dublin Prize winners, I think it would be a good winner. It felt like DeNiro's Game by Rawi Hage, This Blinding Absence of Light by Tahar Ben Jalloun, No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, and Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson in terms of overall tone and feel, not plot or type of book at all. The only other nominee from this year's list I've read is The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and I really liked it as well.

The Shortlisted Books
Winner announced June 17, 2010
The Twin by Gerbrand Bakker
The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
In Zodiac Light by Robert Edric
Settlement by Christoph Hein
The Believers by Zoe Heller
Netherland by Joseph O'Neill
God's Own Country by Ross Raisin
Home by Marilynne Robinson

Any of these you'd recommend to read or want to read? Never mind the Home book, I was bored to tears by Gilead and have no intention of reading that one.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

MEME: Booking Through Thursday

What books do you have next to your bed right now? How about other places in the house? What are you reading?

I have a few piles by my bed. Closest to me is the book I'm reading now: Out Backward by Ross Raisin and the next library book on the pile, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

I have a pile of LM Montgomery books that I like having nearby - Tangled Web, Blue Castle, The Blythes are Quoted and another old book, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. I like the look of these of this pile of books.

I have a pile of mysteries - Tainted Blood by Indridason, August Heat by Camilleri, A Little Yellow Dog by Mosely,
Oxford Murder by Guillermo, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Lindsay, Death at La Fenice by Leon, and Murder on the Leviathon by Akunin. I keep shuffling this pile, trying to decide which one will be next.

We won't talk about the piles of books in other places in the house. I'll only admit to the ones beside my bed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

We have a winner! The new Bookword for that book that is calling out to you to be read is A Book Siren as suggested by Jan von Harz. Congratulations, Jan!

We need a new situation. What about that poor book you bring home from the library, that looked so good, but then the due date comes and other books were read instead? So you have to take it back unread. (Of course, you have every intention of taking it out again and reading it.) What shall we call the library book that gets returned unread?

I'll take suggestions in the comments and Suey will put up a poll next week on her blog. Even if you think of something, please leave a comment. Sometimes that is all it takes to help someone else come up with an idea. It's one big brainstorming session in the comments.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

I think the Victoria Day holiday (yesterday, in Canada) is one of my favorite holidays. Mostly because there are no other expectations associated with it - no visits to make, so big dinners to eat. It's a day to spend outside, weather willing, do a little yardwork, and just enjoy a day off. I got some herbs potted, watched a bit of a PeeWee baseball game, slept in, barbequed yesterday (steak and scallops!) The weather was great, if a little windy (remember not to hang towels on the line on such a windy day; the line came down) It feels like summer is here!

How great was it that Lost was on last night and I had today off? Another reason to like the Victoria Day holiday. Reactions to the final? yea or nay? I am a definite yea.

Still taking suggestions in the comments for this weeks Bookword - that library book that gets returned unread. Head on over and have your say.

In reading, I just boarded a train, the Orient Express, and there has been a suspicious death. Luckily, Poirot is on hand. (Murder on the Orient Express, Agatha Christie)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BOOK: The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert, 286 pages

Historical Mysteries

Cute little cozy mystery set in 1905, in the Lake District of England. Much of the novel is based on the true story of Beatrix Potter, author of the delightful children's books, like The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Albert takes some known facts of Beatrix Potter's life and then builds a whole village around what was known after she left her sheltered parents house. The list of characters at the beginning of the book make clear which characters are based on real people and which are made up. And what a delightful cast of characters populate the village of Near Sawrey!

The mystery is slim in this book, but that is not the appeal. The charm is in the relationships among the characters and the cats and dogs who also live in the town. They have meetings, discuss, and try to solve mysteries as well as the humans. It sounds too cute, but it plays just right. The animals always talked in italics, which helped keep the conversations straight. Miss Potter carries a menagerie of animals with her, so there is also the city mouse meets country mouse aspect to the story. I really liked how the animals played such a part in the plot, unknown to the human characters. The assumption that not much happens in a little village is all a matter of scale - disappearances, deaths, and inheritances take greater relevance when everyone knows everyone else.

Overall, a sweet little mystery. Fans of Beatrix Potter, historical mysteries, English countrysides, and cats would enjoy.

also reviewed:
framed at framed and booked (has the first few books reviewed)
nan at letters from a hill farm (at first I thought her farm was the same name)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GAME: The Bookword Game (sticky post)

Welcome, it's time to look over the choices and make your vote. Suey asked us this week for suggestions for what should we call a book that seems to take on a personality of its own and call out to you to "please read me NOW" and is very persistent about it and won't leave you alone until you've read it. Or, in shorter words, what should we call a book that begs to be read immediately?

Lots of suggestions too! Excellent effort this week.

Pam suggested Baggage Book
Emilee suggested Book Badger
Jan suggested GottaRead Book
Jan von Harz suggested A Book Siren or a Beseeching Book
bybee suggested a come-hither book
melissa suggested README
tif suggested Top Notch or King of the Mountain

Come by and vote for this week's Bookword. I'll have the poll open until Wednesday next week and then I'l have results and a new word next week. Have fun voting!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

There is still time to vote on the Bookword Game this week, and then results and a new word on Wednesday. If you have any suggestions that need Bookwords, feel free to leave an idea. We can credit your idea, or you can remain anonymous.

In reading, I am in New Zealand with a travelling acting troupe in the 1930s. There's been a murder, and Inspector Roderick Alleyn, while on vacation, is being drawn into the case. It's my first Marsh and I'm reading it for the Classics Circuit Tour of Golden Age Detectives. My tour stop in June 1. I've always been a Poirot girl, so this is new to me. (Vintage Murder, by Ngaio Marsh)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BOOK: Bethlehem Road by Anne Perry

Bethlehem Road by Anne Perry, 308 pages

Historical Mysteries Challenge; Our Mutual Read Challenge

Setting: Victorian London, about 1880s

Series: # 10 of 25 in the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt mysteries, but the 20th one I've read. I spent much of the early 2000s reading Anne Perry mysteries, the Pitts and also the William Monk series, always available at the library

Series Overview: Charlotte Ellison Pitt married down in class for love, to a lowly policeman, Thomas Pitt. Thomas gets to rub shoulders with a higher class through Charlotte's family, including her rich sister Emily, and Emily's great aunt in law, Vespasia. Charlotte never minds getting involved with one of Thomas' cases. Thomas is smart and knows his place, and takes his job very serious.

This Book: Late one night, a British MP, Member of Parliament, is found with his throat cut and hung up on a bridge. Is there a personal motive or are the anarchists trying to destabilize the monarchy? Nice inclusion of the growing suffragette movement.

The Victorian times: Keeping control, concern of appearances, and maintaining a certain decorum and style are all the fun things to read about but thank heavens I never lived then. Writing in retrospect allows our main characters to be ahead of their time, noticing social injustices, with characters who are very tolerant of different ideas and people.
I liked that Perry included a major theme of the suffragettes in this book. The women are starting to rebel, to talk about their lack of rights. My biggest image of the London suffragettes has always been Mrs Banks marching while Mary Poppins looks after her children all day. (Mary Poppins!) Charlotte of course is very interested in women's rights, and recognizes that she lives a fairly privileged life, even if she only has one young girl to help her and a woman to come in to do the heavy work.

My Thoughts: I haven't spent time with Charlotte and Thomas in a long time and it was great to see them all again, especially Emily and Great-Aunt Vespasia. The mystery itself ended kind of strangely and quickly and it seemed like there should have been another twist. This is a series I'd like to read all and once you've read twenty books, the actual mystery isn't the story - it's the characters and their lives and relationships.

BOOK: The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton

The Rehearsal by Eleanor Catton, 317 pages

Early Reviewer Book from LibraryThing; Orange Longlist 2010

The plot summary sounded great - after a sex scandal at a private school, the nearby acting school decides to put on a play about the incident. The execution was thoroughly disorienting. Until I read in another review that the girls in the high school were in chapters labeled with days of the week, and the acting students were in chapters labeled with months, I was very confused. That helped a bit. I believe that some of the vignettes (the plot is nonlinear and the view is always changing) were the actual play, but I'm still not completely sure.

I continued reading because it was an Early Reviewer book, and somewhere in the middle, the story became a bit more clear for me. When the story stayed with the acting students I liked it much better. Over all, I don't like reading a story that makes me feel stupid because I can't figure out who anyone is or what is happening. Usually by the end I can have a good picture of the book, but this one left me baffled. Other readers who can deal with such a nonstandard novel may enjoy it, but it didn't work for me.

The Rehearsal was on the longlist for the 2010 Orange Prize, and it certainly had the feel of a 'prize winning' book, but not the kind I like, the kind that are more about the writing and the technique than the story.
I read an interview with Catton in Belletrista, and it made me appreciate her writing and recognize that she was deliberate in all her decisions about the book.

also reviewed:
clare at paperbackreader
jackie at farmlanebooks
buried at buried in print

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Bookword Game Update - still taking suggestions at Suey's this week. Looks like a great list so far. I'll put a poll up Wednesday sometime.

In reading, I am in a couple of schools - a high school and an arts school. There was a scandal involving a teacher, and now they are putting on a play about it. (The Rehearsal, Eleanor Catton)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Monday, May 10, 2010

CHALLENGE: 2nds Reading Challenge

Seconds Reading Challenge hosted here at Royal Reviews.

Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010.
There are four levels:

-- Curious – Read 3 novels that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Fascinated – Read 6 that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Addicted – Read 12 novels that are 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

-- Obsessed – Read 20 novels 2nd in a series or second time you've read the author.

Books that are second in a series, or second time I've read the author:
1. Purple Hibiscus - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Half a Yellow Sun)
2. Dead Cold - Louise Penny (2nd in a series)
3. She Got Up Off the Couch - Haven Kimmel (A Girl Named Zippy)
4. The Unnamed - Joshua Ferris (Then We Came to the End)
5. The Green Mill Murder - Kerry Greenwood
6. The Missing Ink - Karen E. Olson (Sacred Cows)
7. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
8. The Ask and the Answer - Patrick Ness (2nd in a series)
9. A Little Yellow Dog - Walter Mosley (Devil in a Blue Dress)
10. Birds of a Feather - Jacqueline Winspear (2nd in a series)
11. What Was Lost - Catherine O'Flynn (The News Were We Are)
12. The Silence of the Rain - Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (September Heat)
13. Trespass - Rose Tremain (The Road Home)
14. Feeling Sorry for Celia - Jaclyyn Moriarty (The Year of Secret Assignments)
15. Barney's Version - Mordecai Richler (The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz)
16. Gretzky's Tears - Stephen Brunt (Searching for Bobby Orr)
17. What is Stephen Harper Reading - Yann Martel (Life of Pi)
18. What Child is This? - Caroline B Cooney (Code Orange)
19. Hard Boiled and Hard Luck - Banana Yoshimoto (Kitchen)
20. King Leary - Paul Quarrington (The Ravine)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

BOOK: Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor

Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, 206 pages

Man Booker Challenge: shortlisted 1971; Four Month Challenge: book written in the 70s (any century); New Author

First of all, it's not that Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor the author, 1912 - 1975, was British and wrote twelve novels and four short story collections. This Elizabeth Taylor has written a bittersweet story about aging, and loneliness, and finding friendship.

Mrs Palfrey first came to the Claremont Hotel on a Sunday afternoon in January. Who goes to a hotel to live? Widows and widowers of a certain class and money, whose family won't take them in. Laura Palfrey and the others who live year round in the Claremont have their own appearances and habits to keep up, but they are in many ways just in a holding pattern, waiting to be moved to a nursing home, as they can't die in the hotel but are hanging on to their independence. Laura meets Ludo, a young writer, when she falls one day outside his home. She sees in him the attention her own grandson doesn't pay her, and he sees in her a character for his novel. They develop a friendship of sorts. Early on, it made me a little nervous that Ludo would be mean to Mrs Palfrey, or use her, and I didn't want anything too terrible to happen to Mrs Palfrey. It wasn't that she was too sweet, because she was human with good and bad qualities, but I liked her, her mix of cautiousness and recklessness as she navigated her new life.

I call this bittersweet because it was both. There were some amusing scenes, but the underlying sadness in the lives of the characters is always present. The life they construct in the hotel, with their rituals and the inevitable hierarchy of social standing were so clearly written. There have been new releases of many of Taylor's novels that I would like to read. I enjoyed her writing style and characterizations. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont has also been made into a movie starring Joan Plowright.

also reviewed:
laura at musings
care at care's online bookclub

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

BLOGGING: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

There is a poll over at Suey's for this week's Bookword. Go vote!

It's May already! Crazy how quickly time goes by. What's the best book you've read so far this year? I'd say my favorite has been Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson. Delightful!

In reading, I am in a midwestern University town, about to start a job as a nanny. (A Gate at the Stairs, Lorri Moore)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, write a post, spread the word.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

CHALLENGE: Non-Fiction Five Challenge

Once again, Trish is hosting the Non-Fiction Five Challenge.

1. Read 5 non-fiction books during the months of May - September, 2010 (please link your reviews on Mister Linky each month; Mister Linky can be found at the beginning of each month on this blog)

2. Read at least one non-fiction book that is different from your other choices (i.e.: 4 memoirs and 1 self-help)

3. If interested, please sign up here with the link to your NFF Challenge post (all choices do not need to be posted and may change at any time)

The pool of books I really want to read:

Age of Persuasion
by Terry O'Reilly and Mike Tennant
-Fans of the CBC radio show of the same name know what this will be about, and the subtitle says it all: How Marketing Ate Out Culture

Driving Over Lemons
by Chris Stewart
-Found this at the booksale yesterday. Sounds like a Bill Bryson travel-esque trip to Spain

The Madman and the Professor
by Simon Winchester
-subtitle says: A Tale of Murder, Insanity and the Making of the Oxford English Dicitonary

Candy Girl
by Cody Diablo DNF couldn't get into it and it felt like she was stripping only to get material for this book
-memoir of by the writer of Juno, and her time as a stripper

plus something else from this other list of books I really want to read:
The Elegant Universe by Brian Green
The Necklace by Cheryl Jarvis
I Shouldn't Even Be Doing This by Bob Newhart
The Great Influenza by John Barry
Teacher Man by Frank McCourt
Cold: Adventures in the World’s Frozen Places, By Bill Streever

Books Actually Read:
1. The Age of Persuasion - Terry O'Reilly & Mike Tennant
2. Invincible Louisa - Cornelia Meigs
3. The Professor and the Madman - Simon Winchester
4. Driving Over Lemons - Chris Stewart
5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot