Tag Archives: Book

Mitch Albom, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto. Review.

3D-frankie-e1439344972792The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto starts off a little slowly as the narrator gets themself established. Considering that the narrator is music itself, this isn’t an easy task but it does make for a little of a slow burn. If anyone can pull it off, it’s Albom whose previous successes give him some leeway.

It’s like when JK Rowling spent pages and pages describing all the departments in the Ministry of Magic describing everything. It didn’t progress the storyline but by that point, no one was censoring her. Frankie Presto is a much shorter story than any Harry Potter could be, however.

Music, our narrator, is at the funeral of one of its beloved musicians, one of, if not the best one that there has been, Frankie Presto. A Spanish documentary is being made about Presto and the story cuts back and forth from Frankie’s childhood to his end. The book is full of cameos from all sorts of famous people such as Lyle Lovett, Duke Ellington, and Wynton Marsalis who either provide their best story or featuring in Frankie’s progress.

With such powerful emotions and dramatic tellings, long-time musician Albom keeps the telling sparse but appropriately wrapped in musical metaphors.

It’s a beautifully told story and I read it in one day. Highly recommended.

Downloaded from NetGalley.

Ask More, Get More by Michael Alden

Michael Alden overcame crime, drugs, and poverty to make millions of dollars in a short period of time. He is an average guy who learned how to “ask more” to “get more” out of life. The strategies and techniques he outlines in this book can help you get just about anything apparently—a better job, a new house, or a great vacation—faster and more consistently if you’re willing to follow his advice.

Alden starts off well. His tone is inspirational, his example motivational and his purpose apparently heartfelt. His work follows similar tales such as those of Tony Robbins who is a world-famous inspirational leader who is both practical in his techniques and electrifying in his words.

Alden doesn’t offer much practical advice until about a quarter of the way into the book and that’s not how to achieve in life, it’s a health and nutrition recipe. He is no Tony Robbins but he is a great example of success. His writing takes a little more perseverance and if I was his editor I would suggest he added the practical exercises much earlier on.

Stuff everyone should know from Quirk Publishing

There is a quirky little series from Quirk publishers, of Worst-case-scenario handbooks fame,  made up of small and short books that tell you all about stuff you should know. Dad’s learn how to get rid of monsters from children’s bedrooms; Women learn all the jokes they should ever know. There is stuff for husbands, dads, men, moms and I’ve already written about being a woman and recipes for men.

Most of them are very likeable and readable, packaged in hardback and pocket-sized. The Jokes Every Woman Should Know however is filled with old smutty jokes that are mostly about sex. Editor Jennifer Worrick really missed a trick in finding some fresh and innovative material from so many brilliant women comedians.

Insults Every Man Should Know spends three pages in its introduction talking about masturbation. Not a highlight but the rest isn’t too bad.

My favourite is Stuff Every Mom Should Know and the advice ranges from how to deal with unsolicited advice to getting rid of lice.

Here’s a useful tip to prevent lice: create or purchase a solution of pure peppermint or tea tree oil mixed with water at a ratio of five drops of essential oil to one cup of water. Spritz this mixture onto your children’s hair, hats, coats and backpacks to prevent infestation. This spray will repel lice and is useful to have on hand when you are notified that your child has been exposed.

Received for review from Quirk Publishing.

Extra tip*:

How to rid a room of monsters

– Perform a thorough search. Follow your child’s lead, since he’s the one who’s been pondering the likeliest monster hiding spots. Use a flashlight to search under the bed, inside the closet, and behind the furniture. See, no monsters!

Make up a story. Tell your child that only nice monsters live in your house and their names are George and Kitty.

Mix up a monster-repellant spray. Solicit your child’s help in gathering ingredients, such as water and a variety of spices. Pour them into a spray bottle. Walk around the room, spritzing under the bed, inside the closet and behind the furniture.

Introduce a guardian. Offer him a new stuffed animal, doll, or toy that has been empowered to protect children from monsters. If he’s still unconvinced, heap on the hype. Explain that this protector has been passed through three generations of children who all grew up safe and sound.

* For Nick

The Imperfectionists, anticipation

Rome is the setting for some quirky characters and an English language newspaper around which eleven short stories are based. The book is the Imperfectionists and it is the first one by English born Tom Rachman. The author was raised in Vancouver and spent his professional life as a journalist. He was stationed in Rome when he worked for the Associated Press, and lived in Paris, where he was editor for the International Herald Tribune.

The description of the book reads as follows:

The English-language newspaper was founded in Rome in the 1950s, a product of passion and a multi-millionaire s fancy. Over fifty years, its eccentricities earned a place in readers hearts around the globe. But now, circulation is down, the paper lacks a website, and the future looks bleak.

Still, those involved in the publication seem to barely notice. The obituary writer is too busy avoiding work. The editor-in-chief is pondering sleeping with an old flame. The obsessive reader is intent on finishing every old edition, leaving her trapped in the past. And the dog-crazy publisher seems less interested in his struggling newspaper than in his magnificent basset hound, Schopenhauer.

There have already been some reviews: DJ Taylor wrote in the Guardian: “Anyone who has ever spent time in newspaperland will recognise The Imperfectionists’ high degree of authenticity. So – you hope – will quite a few people beyond it.

Jonathan Sale at the Independent is a little punchier with his opinion. ‘Tom Rachman has worked as a foreign correspondent and his characters, although exaggerated, ring only too true. To avoid former colleagues who might recognise themselves, he would be best advised to stick to the novel writing. They might take a dim view of the hackette’s sneering verdict that “Journalism is a bunch of dorks pretending to be alpha males.”‘

Finally, Charlie Buckley at the Scotsman is a little more positive than the other two: “THIS first novel by Tom Rachman, a London-born journalist who has lived and worked all over the world, is so good I had to read it twice simply to figure out how he pulled it off”.

The hardback version was published in March 2010 and the paperback is due to be released in September of this year.

If you do end up reading it then please let me know what you thought. I will do the same when I get a chance to read it.