Profile for SBuckle > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by SBuckle
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,434
Helpful Votes: 29

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Amazon Communities.

Reviews Written by
SBuckle (Toronto)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7
pixel
The Circle
The Circle
by Dave Eggers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
7 used & new from CDN$ 21.32

4.0 out of 5 stars Questions the legitimately of online interactions, Dec 17 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Circle (Hardcover)
In the world Eggers creates, the Circle is central to life. The Circle is Facebook, Google, InterACT, banks, CCTVs, musuems all combined into one behemoth company that wants to act as the hub of all information and communication. The power with that is enormous as Eggers illustrates throughout the book via our main character Mae Holland, a new hire to the Circle. While the concentration and unfettered expansion of technology into our lives is met with Eggers' skepticism - much like any concentration of power should be - the idea of what constitutes human interaction is what was most interesting for me.

Eggers shows us a world where people are anchored to a screen and communication and emotion shared via social media. Even the 'offline' events the Circle hosts are centered around the online. While Eggers' shows us a world of the extreme, where online has entirely supplanted offline, it certainly raises questions as to the real value of social interaction via Facebook and the like today. Are these interactions as real as in-person or not? If not, what then are your obligations within the social world and how do these obligations square away with your 'friends' expectations?

Overall, a great book with a quick pace unlike Eggers. While Eggers admits he did no research on social media companies, his idea of one feels legitimate, which is probably why a bunch of the silicon valley nerds have tried to pick this book apart.

Night Film: A Novel
Night Film: A Novel
by Marisha Pessl
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
15 used & new from CDN$ 14.60

3.0 out of 5 stars A letdown, Oct. 16 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Night Film: A Novel (Hardcover)
Like a lot of people, I'd been waiting for a long time for Pessl to follow-up her rookie release, "Special Topics in Calamity Physics". When learning that 'Night Film' was going to be a horror/suspense, I wasn't too thrilled. That feeling remains today after finishing 'Night Film'. While the book wasn't terrible by any stretch, it just had nowhere near the quality and character as 'Calamity Physics'. Pessl certainly used the extended time to vigorously prepare this book as it's well-researched and its story well-constructed, but it doesn't make up for the almost blandness throughout that's met with a shoulder-shrug once it ends. I never found myself interested in our three leads and while the main protagonist is somewhat of an anti-hero, sacrificing his father-duties to chase the story, Pessl doesn't give us much to go on outside of this commitment for work. It felt like she over-indexed her efforts on creating such an intricate plot that weaved together in apparent complexity, she sacrificed creating a strong, likeable character like Blue Van Meer, and her writing became a bit too obvious and forgiving to the reader. In other words, the intricate story wasn't enough to hold everything together to come close to her last book.

The Year of the Flood
The Year of the Flood
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 15.88
19 used & new from CDN$ 6.78

3.0 out of 5 stars A decent story, but inferior to Oryx and Crake, Sept. 3 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Year of the Flood (Paperback)
Only someone of Atwood's ability could turn a somewhat flat story into a decent book. Atwood is great at understanding when to turn it up a notch. For a good chunk of the initial book, she stays in second gear, but this nicely sets up the last 100-pages, which she plows through full-throttle. It's this tempo that makes you a bit less concerned with the story's overall flatness. In comparison to Oryx and Crake which had more surprise to it, The Year of the Flood was rather formulaic and obvious throughout. Some of it even felt forced, where Atwood tried to interconnect everything even though it didnt need to be. One positive of this though, she set herself up nicely for MaddAdam with a group of characters that I hope she continues to build on and take us further versus looking back into the past so much. It's in this post-apocalyptic landscape - read: post Flood - that is most interesting. She needs to spend more time here than always reaching back telling us how we got here - she's had two books to already do that. I'm hoping she takes her readers further into this world and shows how a group that is cognizant of the failures that got them here, rebuilds civilization.

Slapstick or Lonesome No More!: A Novel
Slapstick or Lonesome No More!: A Novel
by Kurt Vonnegut
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
37 used & new from CDN$ 2.57

5.0 out of 5 stars True to Vonnegut's form, Aug. 28 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Slapstick wouldnt be the first book I'd recommend to a new Vonnegut reader, but it's the first book I'd say is a must read for any Vonnegut fan. It's a template for what Vonnegut is all about.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On
Contagious: Why Things Catch On
by Jonah Berger
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 18.80
43 used & new from CDN$ 15.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the better books on virality, Aug. 3 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I saw Berger speak at an Art of Marketing conference and bought into his thinking immediately. His book has only reinforced it. 'Contagious' is about how and why ideas, services and products spread. Based upon years of academic research, Berger has arrived at a system named STEPPS that acts as a litmus test for word-of-mouth strength. STEPPS stands for Social Currency, Emotions, Public, Practical Value and Stories and if a good idea or program checks each of these off, it has a high likelihood of becoming the next viral sensation that increases sales exponentially. Three key takeaways for me:

1) Social is not the panacea of virality. Berger, through years of peer-reviewed research, argues that social accounts for only 7% of word-of-mouth, which probably gives every creative agency and community manager jitters, but it shouldnt necessarily. Social mediums can be used as a way to spread ideas within communities already established and its these communities or trusted networks that have value. Word-of-mouth happens within these trusted networks, because the people know each other better and choose to share stuff that they know will resonate with them. If Tommy is into baseball, I'm not going to tell him about the latest baby stroller, but I will share a video of the amazing catch from last night's game - even watching the video makes me automatically think of Tommy. People skew what they share based upon others interests so reception increases. You need to light a bunch of little fires rather than one big one, which means a tweet to a million people has less value than 100 tweets to smaller bases.

2) Making a brand public is important so other people can see it, but the opposite is true for stuff you dont want to spread. For instance, the RIAA's campaign against illegal downloads stated 63% of people download music illegally, which had an unintended consequence of making the public feel it was less bad because so many people did it.

3) Stories are obviously integral for word-of-mouth, however it's vital that your brand or product becomes a fundamental piece of the story, where the story collapses without including the brand/product when retold. Berger here references the Roller-baby spot by Evian, which got 100+m view on YouTube, but had nothing at all to do with the brand - how do rollerskating babies and Evian connect? They don't, so people liked the spot but did not take anything away about the brand.

Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die
Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die
by Eric Siegel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 21.32
50 used & new from CDN$ 14.71

4.0 out of 5 stars Good starter book for those new to the topic, July 20 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
As more and more companies try to harness the power of 'Big Data'- the latest business buzz word - contains, books like Siegel's are helpful getting a grasps on it. This book is less 'how to' than an attempt to explain what it is, and how it can work for you, with the latter point venturing a bit too close to hucksterism at times (hey, it is Siegel's field). Siegel does a good job explaining how valuable data is and convinces us that with smart, predictive modeling, data can change how we market to customers and increase efficacy on the business front. I appreciated him tackling the different types of predictive models from a high-level and laying it out in a way that is entirely digestible to someone at arm's length. A few drawbacks of the book are its limited case studies or not investing enough into the ones he does present. A Bloomberg cover article on Obama's celebrated analytics team prompted me to read this book and I was looking forward to a deep-dive into it, however Siegel shorts us here with a quick 5 page highlight. And a very minor point, the illustrations are too Microsoft Clipart to be taken serious.

Oryx and Crake: A Novel
Oryx and Crake: A Novel
by Margaret Atwood
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
33 used & new from CDN$ 0.35

3.0 out of 5 stars Decent book, will continue with the next two, July 20 2013
Admittedly, this was my first Atwood book as I've never found myself in front of her books. I liked it Oryx and Crake and I'm a fan of post-apocalyptic plots, but even under these auspices, I was never fully taken with it, not like McCarthy's 'The Road', which my mind seemed to reference throughout even though they're only linked by a tenuous post-apocalyptic thread. I did enjoy Atwood's meticulous research on the scientific elements and appreciated her backdoor jab at uncontrolled corporate exploitation at humanity's attempts of immortality and perfection. Even though I'd rather thumb through 'The Road' then Orxy and Crake, I'm still interested in continuing on the series.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.32
124 used & new from CDN$ 7.13

5.0 out of 5 stars The genuis of Lincoln's timing, May 11 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book was elaborately researched and featured insight on Lincoln and the wide cast of people who surrounded him. The biggest takeaway for me was Lincoln's understanding of societal momentum. Lincoln wasn't the most radical politician. There were many others who should be credited with being on the forefront of the emancipation movement, but they wanted to push ahead with aggression rather than broad acceptance by society. In other words, Lincoln understood the pulse of the North and knew when to move forward with transformational change like his Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th Amendment, etc and garner buy-in from the masses. It sometimes wasnt fast enough, but it did mean achieving the end of slavery whilst delicately balancing the Union's war with the Confederates in a political tightrope unheard of since.

Another main premise in the book is Lincoln's steady and confident leadership. By surrounding himself with his rivals who happened to be the brightest men in the North and leading with a flexible yet self-assured hand, Lincoln's cabinet guided the US through one of it's darkest periods. Today, it's impossible a leader in politics or business taking Lincoln's route, which is why Lincoln is so revered the world over.

A Naked Singularity: A Novel
A Naked Singularity: A Novel
by Sergio De La Pava
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.68
38 used & new from CDN$ 12.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Great writing, but limited story-telling, Jan. 13 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
De La Pavia has a fierce pen. Casi, his lead, was a great character with a sharp tongue and sardonic wit. His other intersecting characters were also strongly built with unique voices. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the dialogue and this is where De La Pavia was at his best - crafting smart, enjoyable interactions between characters.

Where he falters however is in his story. He never gave us a central plot to hook us into. The heist could have easily been it, but there was too much noise away from it and it took too long to get there. I felt like he should have used the heist to spiderweb all his other angles into - the immigrant family, work issues, apartment complex neighbours, etc. Also, the boxing interest was often deadweight - there were only a few times I could link it to Casi while the other times it felt like a rude interruption.

All and all, De La Pavia will write again because he's got tremendous talent. He just needs to work on telling a story.

Japanese for Busy People II: Revised 3rd Edition
Japanese for Busy People II: Revised 3rd Edition
by Association for Japanese-Language Teaching
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 21.39
39 used & new from CDN$ 20.65

4.0 out of 5 stars One of the better Japanese learning tools, Nov. 3 2012
I've followed through on all three versions of this series using the workbook and support books and recommend them as your central tool for self-learning the language. You should always include additional resources to augment your learning. The books are focused on building a grammatical and contextual foundation that, once established, will allow you to continually add to on your own.

A key piece of advise: Make sure to continually review, review, review. Go back to the beginning of the books and start over to further reinforce the concepts as some don't always come up again. Also, after these books, your reading will advance further than your listening and, of course, your speaking. To offset, over-index on the CD tracks and augment using a Japanese-on-tape resource (i.e. Pimselur). In addition, try to watch JP movies, shows, etc as most resources teach more formal Japanese, however the average Japanese conversation is less formal and more nuanced.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7