Aug 31, 2012

Never Let Me Go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Book Description: As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.

Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.

I just found out this book was made into a movie. An interesting fact, but I wont be watching it. Even if it does have Keira Knightley. Who is awesome. I enjoyed the book well enough, but I wouldn't want to sit through it again.

Most of the things I didn't like about the book, were exactly right for the story it was telling. It was conflicting. Such as, the pace of the book was slow. At time, really slow. But that's exactly the pace that a story which is mostly memories from the past. Kathy also came across as really immature, especially the parts about sex - and there was a lot of sex - but again that only makes since, considering the sheltered lives these children that grew up at Hailsham had. However, just because these things were right for the story, didn't mean I had to like them.

The redeeming quality that kept me reading was the mystery of what the book was actually about. It's so much more than a book about some kids who were at a boarding school together. It becomes clear pretty quickly that there is something the author isn't telling us, and that we want to stick around to find out what it is.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it a Enjoyable. I wouldn't exactly recommend not reading it, but I'm not about to go around shouting about it from the rooftops either.

Aug 29, 2012

Deaf Boy Told To Change Name at School because of Weapons Policy

You know what I miss? When common sence was more important than policy.

This article (which I found via Boing Boing) is exactly what I'm talking about. A 3-year-old deaf boy named Hunter was told by his preschool that he would have the change the way he signs his name, as it violates their weapons policy.
Hunter Spanjer says his name with a certain special hand gesture, but at just three and a half years old, he may have to change it.
"He's deaf, and his name sign, they say, is a violation of their weapons policy," explained Hunter's father, Brian Spanjer.
Grand Island's "Weapons in Schools" Board Policy 8470 forbids "any instrument...that looks like a weapon," But a three year-old's hands?
They have since changed their tune and issued a press release stating that they will not be requiring him to change his name (after angry emails and phone calls), but that doesn't change the fact that someone thought it was a good idea to tell this child's parents that his name violated policy.

It makes me want to weep for the future of humanity.

Aug 26, 2012

UnSelling: Sell Less ... To Win More

UnSelling: Sell Less ... To Win More by Peter Bourke

Book Description: The more you sell, the less the client trusts you to tell them the truth. The more you sell, the less inclined the client is to listen. The more you sell, the more you tend to look (and act) like a hammer looking for a nail – where any nail will do. In reality, the more you sell, the less you win.

This is entirely counter-intuitive to the average sales person, mostly because we are taught from the first day of sales training that the key to success is great sales techniques. You can find thousands of books on the art and science of selling – techniques, tricks, even scripts to “sell” the prospect. Our corporate sales training classes always insisted that sales is about understanding the prospect’s needs and then articulating your solution so that the prospect was compelled to choose your obviously-superior solution – right? Not so fast! The problem: most prospects don’t want to be sold.

This book on UnSelling is designed to shift the buyer-seller relationship from subservient (they say, “Jump,” we say, “How high?”) to collaborative and does so by having the seller resist the temptation to “sell” (or tell). UnSelling is focused on the more consultative approach of understanding the problem the client is intent on solving. The better we understand the client’s problem, the less we have to sell (if at all).

This eBook will outline an approach to control and win the most complex deals that includes:

• Qualifying new clients that requires no “selling” – period!
• Understanding how to create a collaborative relationship with the prospect so that your sales teams can understand the truth from the client – not what they want you to believe
• Contrasting the difference between traditional selling and this unique approach to UnSelling
• And understanding what to say and how to say it

Your sales people and leaders will never “sell” the same way again – and will win more as a result.

 This is a book full of excellent tips on a new way to sell - or Unsell, if you will. For me, it was less of an eye opening, novel new way of doing things than an affirmation that my way of sales may have been right all along.

I used to be a telemarketer. For eight months I sold cell phones and plans through cold calling. I hated it, mostly because I was awful at it. If I could find someone who was interested in talking for a moment, I could quickly find out if we had something that was a good fit for them, but I was really bad at pushing someone into buying something that they really didn't want. This book confirmed for me that my way of selling is just as valid - if not better - than that of your classic sales person. Just not if you're a telemarketer.

Really, the only complaint I have about this book is one that is always a big one I have for non-fiction books - unnecessary exclamation marks. It makes me crazy. It's as if the author is saying, "Look!!! LOOK! THIS INFORMATION IS VERY NOVEL AND INTERESTING!! I am ever so clever to have written it!!", which if what you're writing is actually novel and interesting, the reader is already going to notice it. It's actually a little insulting - like the author doesn't think I'm smart enough to figure out what is important or not. More often, though, the unnecessary exclamation mark accompanies information that is not nearly as big of a surprising breakthrough as the author thinks it is. If this was a face-to-face interaction, it would be the kind of thing I'd respond to with a sigh, and an urge to move things a long. "Yes, we all get it, you're very smart, now lets get on with it." What's even worse is that in Unselling, a lot of the information presented in conjunction with the dreaded punctuation actually was interesting and clever. Making it it even more annoying and jarring. Seriously, if you're writing a non fiction book and you think to yourself, "Should I have an exclamation mark at the end of this sentence?" - Unless you're quoting someone, the answer is no.


On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it an Pretty Great. The information was interesting and even if you are a "classic salesperson", there are some ideas you could (and I would argue should) adopt. Plus, it's free, so the only thing it's going to cost you is a bit of your time. It's no a particularly long book, so there is really no reason for one that is interested in sales shouldn't read it. Just watch out for unnecessary exclamation marks.

Aug 21, 2012

Getting Away With It

Getting Away With It (52 Brilliant Ideas) by Steve Shipside

Book Description: Some people have the inside track on everything. They look ten years younger than they are, they wangle cheap flights all over the world and still get upgraded, they talk their way out of parking tickets, and get glamorous jobs they're not really up to. Well, now it's your turn. In Getting away with it we've assembled more than 20 Infinite Ideas authors to expose the secrets of the world's most (apparently) successful people. Often wondered how some people always seem to have a place on the guest list at the hippest places in town, drive cars way out of their price league and have jobs they simply aren't qualified for? Well here are some of the answers you've been looking for.

I got this book as a free kindle download, but that doesn't seem to be an option anymore. Pity, as far as free books go this one is pretty good. I found it to be pretty well written and edited; it was an overall enjoyable read. And, it was surprisingly not all that smarmy, considering that it's a book about making people think you're more awesome than you are.

On a scale from On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it a pretty good. What really made the difference - that is, what took this book from being really awful to pretty good - was that it doesn't take itself too seriously. And in amongst the bits that are a little heavy on the smarmy are some really good tips on how to look your best and get ahead in life. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Aug 16, 2012

Great Moments from Olympics Past

If you were one of those people that spent every available moment (or even some available moments) wrapped up in Olympic fever, you might be feeling a little withdrawal at this stage in the week. While it's not London 2012, maybe these moments from past Olympic Games will ease your suffering.

Aug 14, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir)

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Book Description: For fans of Tina Fey and David Sedaris—Internet star Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, makes her literary debut.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. In the #1 N
ew York Times bestseller, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor. Chapters include: “Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel”; “A Series of Angry Post-It Notes to My Husband”; “My Vagina Is Fine. Thanks for Asking”; “And Then I Snuck a Dead Cuban Alligator on an Airplane.” Pictures with captions (no one would believe these things without proof) accompany the text.

To say that I'm a long time fan of The Bloggess would be an understatement. I found her blog by accident one day and I was hooked. I went back and read everything ever posted to that site. Although I had to stop reading at work a few times, because I was trying not to laugh out loud like a crazy person, but it was making me convulse a little and people were looking at me strange. Any writing that can make you do that has to be incredible, right?

I've been waiting for my chance to read this book since it was released. When the box from Amazon arrived, I couldn't wait, and starting reading immediately. I had wanted to take it to work with me the next week to read between calls (one of the few perks of my particular call centre job), but it didn't make it that far. I started it on Thursday and was finished Friday evening.

It was an easy, quick read and I loved every second of it. Anyone who's spent a lot of time on her site will find a lot of the stories familiar (as in, hey, I've read this exact story before, almost word for word) but I didn't feel cheated in that way that you often can reading memoirs from bloggers. Most of the contents of the book were brand new and wonderful - in a train wreck kind of way. My favourite parts had chupacabras and scorpions.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it an Absolutely Excellent. You'll love it if you've been following TheBloggess for any length of time, but even if you haven't you should still check it out. It's funny, horrifying and heart warming (I guess?). It's full of taxidermy, bobcats and toxic well water. It has a quest to find a long lost graveyard and guys in Hazmat suits. So, you know - a little something for everyone.

Aug 11, 2012

To Do: Watch The Perseid Meteor Shower

GUYS. Tonight starts the year's best meteor shower. Go find somewhere dark and look up.

If you're in the Annapolis Valley this weekend there are tons of other things going on too.

You could check out the Open House at Camp Aldershot. Military vehicle rides, face painting, Military equipment displays...Free hot dogs. Weapons and tactics demonstrations. Last year the lit the grass on fire. It was entertaining. And free! I go every year, because it is just around the corner from my house. It's still worth checking out if you're in the neighbourhood.

You could also take in Berwick Gala Days, New Minas Celebration Days or Kentville Street Fest!

What's happening in your neck of the woods this weekend?

Aug 10, 2012

The Hunger Games (movie)

So, I finally got around to watching The Hunger Games movie. I don't usually write movie reviews's kind of hard to explain. Although I generally enjoy movies, I don't really care about them. Not enough to review them. I imagine you can see where this review is going.

I felt I should write a quick review for this movie since I wrote such gushing reviews of the books. So here it is.

I'm not going to get into great detail on the differences between the book and the movie. Was it missing things from the book I wish were in the movie? Of course (Haymitch falling off the stage?). It was made up for by adding in things that made the movie work better than how it would have without them. So I'm cool with the differences.

Now, lets talk about casting for just a second. Whoever did the casting did a fantastic job. Even the people that didn't look like I imagined them worked really well. And most of them..well, they were all pretty close to how I saw them in my head. Rue and Effie? They were PERFECT. Casting was well done. Very well done.

My biggest complaint about the whole thing is that there weren't enough extremes. The people of District 12 were poor, but weren't portrayed as epicly poor. And the capitol was extravagant and kind of weird, but not as over the top as they should have been. Haymitch had a few drinks, but wasn't a horrible drunk. The Games themselves were awful, but were not near as barbaric as they were in the books. The extremes are what made the books so compelling. They were what I missed most when watching the movie.

I think I would have liked the movie a lot more had I never read the books. But if I'd watched the movie first I never would have read the books. It was good, but not great. I enjoyed it but...meh.

Aug 8, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Book Description:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

This book made me cry. A lot. Especially at the end. If you don't books that make you cry, then you probably shouldn't read books about teenagers with cancer. Seriously, that would be pretty foolish of you.

I always feel really foolish when I cry at books. I don't know why. It's perfectly ormal, right? I don't know. It never stops me from reading books I know will make me cry. In fact, I enjoy them more than a lot of books that don't make me cry.

I didn't like Augustus at first. There were a lot of things that left me rolling my eyes and thinking, Really? Really. People aren't really like that. But then I remembered that teenagers are often like that. I had friends like that in High School. People who thought they were way deeper than they really were. Also, he grew on me. I really liked him by the end of the book.

Ok, so this might be a spoiler if you're part way through the book or just about to start the book. So you might want to skip this bit. Right. So I spent a good part of the book worried about the ending. I was scared it was going to end like the ending in the book within the book. Every time the ending of that book was mentioned (which was quite a bit), all I could think was, Oh god...if this is foreshadowing and this book ends like that book I will be SO ANGRY and will never read another John Green book. But I will still love his videos (Especially Crash Course) and won't hold this against those. ...long story short, I hope to get my hands on
Looking for Alaska sooner rather than later, so read into that what you will.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful I'd give it an Incredibly Great. I would recommend it to...really, anyone. Unless you don't like books that make you cry.

Aug 7, 2012


This video is really, really strange and (Spoiler Alert!) ends with a hot dog that goes into space and back.

Aug 4, 2012

What kind of things do security cameras capture?

I stole this from yes and yes because it is crazy cute.

Seriously, I can't stop watching this. It kind of makes you want to go out and be awesome to people, doesn't it?

Great job, Coca Cola. 

Aug 3, 2012

La Chiripa

I received this book (SIGNED by the Author!) through Goodreads First Reads.

La Chiripa by Kaimana Wolff

Book Description:
 On the evening news, Vancouver lawyer Matt Wayne catches the story of a murdered Japanese tourist and instantly makes a decision: he will go to Todos Santos, high in the mountains of Guatemala, to hunt down the woman he hates.

In Todos Santos, Pira and her mother, Alma, keep quiet about their past, much as their Mayan neighbors, still in shock after four decades of La Violencia, now maintain El Silencio over an unspeakable history. But two aspiring journalists, stumbling onto the fate of the tourist, tell the sensational story for their own purposes, proving once again that lies uncover truth better than truth uncovers lies.

Only the shaman Natalya, dreaming of the vengeful, mythic Anton Kristo, foresees the wave of new violence about to engulf Todos Santos with the coming of Matt Wayne. Pira is plunged into a fight for her life and Alma faces a mother’s sacrifice -- to give up everything for a child.

The first thing I'd like to mention is that this is the second book in a series. This is a fact that I was completly unaware of until I got to the end and read the blurb about the author. You know how sometimes you're reading a book and although everything make sense it feels like you're missing something? And only later you find out it's actually the second or third book in a series? This happens to me a lot when I buy books from the bargin bin or when someone gives me a bag full of random books. Anyway, I did not have that feeling even once while reading this book. I had no idea and was quite surprised to know that there was a book that came before this one. It's written in such a way that it feels as if you are not supposed to know the back story. It's actually what I liked most about the book. The not knowing the whole story is what kept me reading. Without it, I don't know if I really could have gotten into it.

When I cracked open the book and found a cast of characters right at the begining, I was a little discouraged. I knew that meant there were going to be too many characters that are difficult to keep straight. I hate that. If I was reading this on my kindle, I would have never finished it, because the cast wouldn't have been so easily accessed, leaving me terribly confused. With a hard copy version of the book, it's not a big deal but it disrupts the flow of my reading experience. That's not to say that the author should have left it out - I needed it more than once. I just...hate when it's necessary is all.

The second thing I found as I continued to the first chapter - the format was really strange. It was a series of interviews, but you only got to read the response to the questions, not the questions themselves. It was really, really weird. I didn't like it at all, and contemplated not reading any further.

However, I would have kept reading regardless of any of the before mentioned facts, as when I receive free books, I feel obligated to read them. Even if they're terrible.

The odds against me liking this book were pretty high, but I kept reading, because I needed to know The Secrets. It was obvious early on that there was something big going on. The Secrets are what kept me reading at the begining, and eventually I got sucked into the story. I don't think I would have liked this book even a quarter as much if I'd read Broken Sleep first.

On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrificly Awful I'd give it a Very Good. As I haven't read it, I can't suggest that you skip the first book, but don't let not reading it make you miss out on La Chiripa. I'll be on the look out for the last book in the series, for sure.