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Arynth (London, England)
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The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers ... & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs,)
The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers ... & PR: How to Use Social Media, Blogs,)
by David Meerman Scott
Edition: Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Not the final say by any stretch, 31 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before reading this or any other book addressing the use of 'new media' in marketing, it's worth bearing in mind that the principles of marketing in social media or on mobile platforms etc is fluid, not static, so any book that goes more in-depth than general principles will be quickly outdated. Luckily this book doesn't really break any ground and already feels aged in terms of ideas espoused.

It's heavily US-centric, which is disappointing because there's a great deal of interesting discussion to be had around the role of marketing to global or international audiences and how one goes about doing it. On top of that, this book reads like a self-help book. Which is annoying because self-help books tend to be structured around 5-6 good ideas that are padded to give the book a feeling of value. I'd prefer to read a 50-page to-the-point and useful expensive book than a 300 page paean to one's ability to pad. Sadly the author has gone for the latter which makes for a much worse experience.

This book is only worth reading if you read it among a list of other books that explore the principles of marketing more broadly and marketing through new channels. Better yet, combine it with a working knowledge of those platforms by going out and exploring Twitter, Facebook and new mobile experiences.


The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
The Lion Wakes (The Kingdom Series)
by Robert Low
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably one for Scottish history fans, 31 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
We are positively drowning in historical novels covering various Roman dynasties, the Vikings, the Saxons, the Ancient Greeks, Ancient Egyptians and some more enterprising authors are looking east to the Muslim world and China for narrative inspiration. As a part-Scot, it's great to see something being written about the Scots by a Scot but I was a little disappointed by the Bruce family being the focus of events. Wouldn't it be great to read a story about the Picts or even Bonnie Prince Charlie? Why always the Rabbies of Bruce?

Well, storyline aside, the book was disappointingly ho-hum. The language is impenetrable in some places and the book has the usual battle scenes with blood here, body parts there. The vignettes of daily life the author paints are sometimes interesting but become repetitive as if to say "Hey, I've done my homework, honest!".

I can't boast to be an avid fan of Scottish history which is probably why I'm less able to overlook the flaws. If you're a fan, then this will probably be a better read for you.


What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us
What the Plus! Google+ for the Rest of Us
Price: £2.27

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Google+ primer, 28 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
If you're interested in understanding what Google+ is and what you can do on the platform as well as *why* you should use it, then you should give this brief e-book a read. It's full of useful information as well as important indicators as to how you should talk and why it's something you can use alongside Facebook and Twitter.

While I disagree with Kawasaki on the role of Google+ - I do not see it as a social network rivalling Facebook, for example - Kawasaki argues powerfully for why it should be used. The hints on how to get the most out of it are useful but because Google+ is a nascent platform and is ever-changing, some of the information I read was already out-of-date. This does not detract, however, from the utility of the book.

It's worth a read if you're interested at all in social media or Google products.


Whose Side are They On? How Britain's Bonkers Government Is Coming After You
Whose Side are They On? How Britain's Bonkers Government Is Coming After You
by Alan Pearce
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Newspaper cuttings pasted together with simple propaganda, 28 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
It's hard to describe how terrible this book is. At its best it is insidious polemic disguised as cool discussion of events which highlight various acts of government heavy-handedness championed by 'New Labour'; at its worst it is a collection of paraphrased, mini articles which are seeded with bad faith and partial events with the deliberate aim of using any story that will stick. So, unusually for any review I've done, I'll take a random sample and illustrate what's wrong with the book:

p159 of this edition:

'Granny in Exile

PENSIONER Dorothy Evans has been banned from her own home in Abergavenny, south Wales, for breaching an ASBO. She also received a nine month jail sentence, suspended for two years.

Mrs Evans, 82, was banned from coming within one square mile of the house she has lived in for 41 years after magistrates found her guilty on two counts of harassing her neighbours. She denied 10 breaches of her ASBO which banned her from 'causing harassment, alarm or distress.''

The impression we get is that this heavy-handed government is cracking down on what is essentially a harmless 81 year-old proving, as the chapter title says, that it is 'Not Fit For Purpose'. Are there any more details to this story? Of course there are! The first Google search for 'Dorothy Evans ASBO' results in a Daily Mail article (of all things!) highlighting the misery of one of her neighbours:

'The court heard how the whitehaired pensioner had waged an extraordinary campaign of intimidation against her neighbours - despite her advanced years and supposed illhealth.

Calling Mrs Casa - a softly-spoken nursery nurse - a prostitute was only the start.

She had also attacked her with her walking stick, flashed her bottom to Mrs Casa's bewildered mother, told her husband to go back to his native Italy and, in a particularly bizarre incident, got down on her hands and knees to draw round Mrs Casa's car, with her in it, with chalk.'

She had four previous convictions for harassment and 8 breaches of a restraining order. Suddenly that Government heavy-handedness doesn't really seem so heavy.

Don't bother with this book unless you have a peculiar penchant for right-wing polemic and the curious desire to avoid looking up anything suspicious to confirm whether the events are true or not.


Collins Livemocha Active German (Collins Active/Livemocha)
Collins Livemocha Active German (Collins Active/Livemocha)

4.0 out of 5 stars An introduction to Livemocha, 25 July 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I've taken quit some time to use this product in advance of reviewing it. I have completed my 6 months with the Livemocha community and I've run through books enough times to be familiar with all the phrases. As a result, I can now communicate semi-effectively in German (one a beginner/lower intermediate level at the moment).

The books are a fine, but where this package excels is in its online community, elements of which have been covered in depth in the product description and through various reviews. There is a flipside to the online elements. The Livemocha site operates on a freemium model, that is some elements of the site are free but for the moe advanced aspects you'll have to pay either credits or have a subscription package like this. This means you need to structure your time so you can use the online elements of the course within the six month time frame (or pay for further time/usage).

I'm now planning to use Livemocha to help me with my Mandarin and continue to improve my German.


Shieldwall
Shieldwall
by Justin Hill
Edition: Hardcover

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent read, but feels a little padded., 25 July 2012
This review is from: Shieldwall (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I'm a fan of early English history, so the context of this book appeals to my inner history nerd. The novel is set mostly in the first two decades of the 11th century, focusing on Godwin Wulfnothson - the eventual father of Harold Godwinson of Hastings fame - and his relationship with Prince Edmund. Along the way there's romance, nemesis and frustration. There are also battles during which the eponymous shieldwall plays its part.

The novel stops well before 1066, leaving you wanting more, which the author promises to deliver in a subsequent title. I'm glad that he lays down some of the foreground to 1066 in this novel, because it's genuinely a complicated part of our history and involves many different claims to the throne. Because the historical record, however, is fairly sparse with regards to Godwin, the author has had to pad the novel with romance and intrigue which never quite hit me as convincing and never really deliver the promised payoff. Where the book excels is in its linguistic detail. By its end, you'll feel much more up to scratch on the development of our town/county names and the similarities between old and contemporary English.

This is definitely worth reading if you're a historical novel buff and it makes a change from the usual focus on Rome.


Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360)
Batman: Arkham City (Xbox 360)
Offered by Game Trade Online
Price: £8.09

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best comic-book game. Ever., 22 July 2012
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This game was brilliant to play and keeps pulling me back to its immersive world. It's by far the best game based on a comic book that I've ever played (and I've played a *lot* of them). Don't hesitate to add this to your collection. I'm going to whiz through a quick list of pros and cons for the game, but this is overwhelmingly positive.

+ The game has a dark, gritty (but realistic) feel to it
+ Every character has a well-developed personality
+ The environment isn't just there to look pretty - there are beautiful details in even the most minor things - from graffiti on the wall to descriptions of exhibits in the museum
+ Huge landscape - much bigger than Arkham Asylum - with plenty to do
+ Great voice acting - many of the voices from the excellent "Batman: The Animated Series' have been carried over to this game
+ Strong plot - this is a story-driven game and the main story arch is excellent and unique to the game. Within the original, main arch, several characters are brought in from the Batman universe
+ Never feels cheesy - always worry with characters like the Penguin that you'll end up with more cheese than gripping plot - not so with the characters in this game
+ *Plenty* of side-quests and activities to keep you occupied long after the game is finished
+ Game extension after first completion with harder mode to keep the challenge fresh

- Saving is based on checkpoints - I don't like this but sadly it's the prevalent form of saving on consoles for action/RPG these days
+/- Some parts of the game are very difficult - not for casual gamers

Go buy it. Now.


Pukka Pad A4 Vellum Pad
Pukka Pad A4 Vellum Pad
Price: £8.56

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful quality - exactly what I wanted, 3 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought these having been a big fan of yellow legal pads at university. I usually shy away from pads of this type because of the expense, but at this price I couldn't avoid it! It's beautifully smooth, easy to write on and great for reading against.

Not much more to be said - if you're looking for high quality yellow paper, this is it!


Making Waves: How to Ride the Chaos with Direct Response Integrated Marketing
Making Waves: How to Ride the Chaos with Direct Response Integrated Marketing
by Mark Davies
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best marketing primer I've read, 28 Feb. 2012
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I tend to hate marketing books. Many are rambling attempts to sell snake oil. This cuts to the chase and establishes firmly and logically the principles and recommended methodologies behind marketing products and brand-building.

The books chapters are neatly-wrapped packages so, for example, if your focus is on e-mail or strategy, you won't need to worry about the chapter on direct mail marketing (though it's worth a read!). I found the chapters on developing strategy and creative thinking processes particularly interesting and will be incorporating the authors' methodological suggestions into my future work.

Remember - this is a primer. If you're looking for deeper knowledge or your focus is on digital, then this is might not be best for you, though several of the principles are transferrable. At the very least, it's worth a read.


Candide
Candide
Price: £0.00

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute must-have, 28 Feb. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Candide (Kindle Edition)
It's free and a good translation. It's an absolute must-have. If you get depressed easily you might want to avoid, otherwise Voltaire's ascerbic wit will touch you in ways no authors can. Probably my favourite book.


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