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The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire
The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire
by Ted Gioia
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.04
41 used & new from CDN$ 25.04

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It will set you talking and listening., Sept. 16 2012
This is a book of lists and opinions which, by definition, means it will set heads nodding in agreement and teeth gnashing in anger. Don't let this dissuade you - the author knows his stuff and expresses it with conviction. He is less technical than Alec Wilder, whose Popular Music (is it back in print?) gets into composition factors more deeply and avoids recommending specific interpretations of featured songs, as this book does. But as one review notes, this is not necessarily a book to curl up with over several hours - it's one to take down from the shelf and read whenever you hear a classic tune such as Misty, Take Five or Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me. Speaking of this latter tune, Gioia makes some moral observations - the song, he suggests, is an excuse for a love being unfaithful - which may divulge from the book's original intent but adds some depth to his observations.
Criticisms? Think of the great tunes left out - My Ship, Some Other Time, Indian Summer and more. And while Gioia praises interpretations by people such as Eva Cassidy ("Over the Rainbow - splendid!) and Cyndi Lauper (really?), he totally ignores interpretations by Zoot Sims and others who interpreted so many tunes marvelously. But that's the point of the book - to kick-start discussions and appreciation of music that has stood the test of time - so far.
This would make a great gift to jazz fans of a certain age.

Half-Blood Blues: A Novel
Half-Blood Blues: A Novel
by Esi Edugyan
Edition: Paperback
56 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good writer, great concept, serious flaw, Nov. 14 2011
Ms. Egugyan's literary talent is evident in this book. She is, as the critics like to say, in control of her work. And the concept of developing a novel set among (mostly) black jazz musicians in Germany and France in the immediate pre-WWII days is brilliant. But despite these qualities, it doesn't really work.

The plot has been spelled out here by other reviewers, so there is no need to replicate it. I agree that the inclusion of Louis Armstrong added little to the story, and the pivotal character, Hiero, is never really developed although he morphs into a wide icon at the end. For most of the book he is more a sullen juvenile than anyone we can care about.

The major flaw is the author''s apparent lack of familiarity with jazz of any era, especially her inability to express the mood of the musicians and the impact of the music itself. This is hardly unique to her, but it seemed to me that it would be totally necessary in order to justify the personalities and actions of the characters. Jazz, after all, is the principal motivator of both the plot and characters. Nothing in the book communicates the passion they feel (or should) for their music; the author's attempts to describe their playing is embarrassing in its ineptness. As a musician I have never heard a trumpeter describe his or her possessing 'pistons'; they are always valves. And it is impossible, by his words, to believe the narrator actually played a bass fiddle (my instrument), as claimed in the story.

Small points? Maybe. But verisimilitude is vital to any story, especially one as era- and culture-specific as this.

I know the book has won major awards and congratulations to the author for them. But if you know as much as the author should know about one of the two primary subjects (jazz and the Nazis), it's a disappointment.

Driven: How To Succeed In Business And In Life
Driven: How To Succeed In Business And In Life
by Robert Herjavec
Edition: Hardcover
23 used & new from CDN$ 10.88

19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's set the record straight, Oct. 14 2010
BillW-AZ from Tempe, Arizona may have his own reasons for dismissing Robert Herjavec's book and is of course entitled to his opinion. But he is not entitled to distort facts. In response to specific errors in his review as the ghost-writer for the book, permit me to correct him on a point or two:

1. For several years before becoming a full-time writer I owned and operated a marketing services firm with several talented and well-paid employees. I indeed knew what it was like to make a payroll and function as an entrepreneur. BillW would not know this, of course, but it did not prevent him from making an erroneous statement and assume it would be accepted as gospel. It should not.

2. I have written several books on behalf of CEOs and entrepreneurs of major corporations, providing me with deep insight into their challenges and achievements - if this qualification means anything to BillW.

3. I have also written several books on my own on financial and investment topics, and will be pleased to submit their titles. Perhaps BillW will indicate if he prefers them in alphabetical or chronological order.

4. Of course, the role of ghostwriter is not to tell his/her story; it is to relate the subject's story in a true and compelling manner. So what's the point of even raising the ghostwriter's background anyway? (Points 1, 2 and 3 above are here simply to refute BillW's errors.)

5. The value of Robert Herjavec's comments and advice is best judged by independent readers, not by someone with an apparent hidden agenda in mind (mine is open and transparent).

Finally - likely to BillW's surprise - DRIVEN has been on a number of best-seller lists since its publication in September 2010. He may derive from this fact whatever he wishes, but it remains a fact, not a mean-spirited fancy.

The Bishop's Man
The Bishop's Man
by Linden MacIntyre
Edition: Hardcover
49 used & new from CDN$ 0.39

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Have I Missed Something?, Oct. 11 2010
This review is from: The Bishop's Man (Hardcover)
Like many others, I suppose, I purchased this book on the basis of it winning the Giller prize for best novel. I expected something that would engage me deeply and perhaps cast a light into the question of ethics among the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, this was not the case at all.

The author chooses to dance around a basically simple tale, one whose actions, victims and villains have become all too familiar in recent years. That's fine ' we need new perspectives on familiar morality stories to drive home their importance and keep us awake to their presence. We also, I may suggest, need to become involved with the characters, to care about them and follow their actions, as troubling or heroic as they may be, simply because they capture our interest and our loyalty.

I could not persuade myself to respond in any such manner to the book's main character, a priest with self-doubts, temptations of the flesh, difficulty in communicating his true feelings and maritime roots. The author's extensive use of flashbacks, a challenging technique to the best of writers, only served to confuse me and break up a story line that should have kept moving forward. Women ' at least three that I could count ' were tempting him to abandon his oath of celibacy, it appears. The only impact was for the author/protagonist to position himself as a sex object. Not very convincingly, however. He comes across only as a confused cowardly man who cannot be honest either to his own carnal desires or to his apparent moral convictions.

The writing, as you might expect from someone whose primary activity has been as a journalist, is workmanlike. If you want poetics or salt-spray infused prose, you had better look elsewhere, to Alistair McCleod perhaps. It's not here.

I assume the Giller judges had good reason to name this the best novel of 2009. I honestly wish they or someone would explain why.

Shadow People: Inside History's Most Notorious Secret Societies
Shadow People: Inside History's Most Notorious Secret Societies
by John Lawrence Reynolds
Edition: Hardcover
18 used & new from CDN$ 5.94

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars AUTHOR'S RESPONSE, Aug. 16 2010
It's silly (but not unknown) for an author to award his/her book 5 stars, so I'll split the difference between the reviewer's rating and everyone else's. Forgive me - there is no separate place for authors to comment that I could find.

In response to Yuskin Blue's "Poop with honey" review, I would like to point out two things:

1. While I inserted a few commentaries as obvious editorial observations, the book includes references to all the specific historical facts in the book. The reviewer disagrees with these references. Perhaps he would be kind enough to provide his own - otherwise, his comments can only be construed as biased and inaccurate (and maybe even the "p" word...).
2. I am most certainly NOT a fundamentalist Christian. I am a very dedicated and unabashed atheist.
3. I did not state that Richard was in Jerusalem. I did state that he was in the region that is broadly defined as The Holy Land.
4. My reference to the Templars was perhaps incomplete - they do, after all, represent one half of one chapter out of 13 in the book - but anyone who reads this portion with clarity will encounter my sneering contempt for the concept and execution of the Crusades. The reviewer, on this topic at least, should find another tree to bark up and poop upon...

Laying It On The Line
Laying It On The Line
by Buzz Hargrove
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.78
10 used & new from CDN$ 14.28

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, informative and surprising to right-wing types, Dec 4 2009
This review is from: Laying It On The Line (Hardcover)
For twenty years Buzz Hargrove was the face and voice of Canadian labour, a guy who supposedly popped up whenever a microphone or TV camera was turned on. Among other subjects in his book he explains why - to speak over the heads of union leaders beneath him and directly to the rank and file. While he remains as supportive of labour unions as ever, he is free with his criticism of some union policies and leaders, and (surprise!) with his praise for business leaders such as Frank Stronach, Gerry Schwarz and others. His comments on Stephen Harper are cutting, as expected, and humorous in places - assuming you're hot a rabid Harper fan (are there any such animals?) His explanation of the crisis facing North American auto makers and the steps they must take to recover industry share is provocative, especially his criticism of free trade and support of managed trade, of which the best example was the now defunct North American Auto Pact.

Among all this, the book is truly entertaining, with many behind-the-scenes glimpses at union politics, heavy negotiations, and various personalities.

Among other things, the book will undoubtedly alter the stereotypical image many people retain of Hargrove, who comes across as a bright, likable and remarkably intelligent human being.

After the Crash: How to Guard Your Money in These Turbulent Times
After the Crash: How to Guard Your Money in These Turbulent Times
by Garth Turner
Edition: Paperback
12 used & new from CDN$ 2.79

24 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars CAVEAT READER, Jan. 25 2009
Bad news - Garth Turner is out of politics and back to writing books and promoting Garth Turner.

I read AFTER THE CRASH with amusement and trepidation - amusement over Turner's over-the-top rant about the economic situation and trepidation that Canadians will believe and heed his advice.

At least Turner is no longer advising Canadians to convert all the equity in their homes into cash to purchase common shares, as he did in a previous book. Anyone who did so would now be out of perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention their own home. Turner's advice in this situation was astonishing: If your mortgage exceeds the value of your home, just walk away "and it's the bank's problem."

No it's not! In Canada, if your mortgage exceeds the value of your home and you default on the mortgage payments, you are responsible for making up the shortfall. Every lawyer, realtor, banker and advisor knows this. Garth Turner doesn't (or didn't).

I don't know how many similar errors are in After The Crash - I was too mesmerized by Turner's egotistical posturing and hysterical observations to note them.

By all means, read about things you can do to handle your finances and investments under the current conditions. But not in this book.

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