Wednesday, March 12, 2008

If You Thought I Was Scatter-Brained Before...

...you're not going to believe the other things I forgot! Actually, it's just one thing, and I have a good excuse: There was a mixup on my insulin prescription, and I had to go without any insulin at all for almost 2 days while it got straightened out. Even after I got the liquid gold pulsing through my veins again, I was left with a ferocious headache and nausea. As a result, I spent most of the day laying on the couch while my 3-year-old trashed the house (I didn't think the mess could get any worse, but it did). At least I got a little reading done ... actually, a lot, as in a whole book. More on that in a minute ...

The thing I forgot to mention about Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner is the ad placement rampant in its pages. Sam Houston over at Book Chase mentioned this in a recent post and I've been thinking about the issue ever since. Maybe I would never have even noticed this if it wasn't for the recent chat about it on blogs, but Carpe Demon is chock-full of references to everything from Diet Coke to Clinique to Gap. Now, I know authors use pop culture to add realism to their books (because a book about a Demon-Hunting soccer mom is oh so believable), but I found the constant references distracting. Is Julie Kenner getting anything in return for these ads? Fifty percent off coupons at Gap, for instance?

I don't discuss "issues" very often, because I'm just not that much of a heavy thinker, but this issue intrigues me...
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Okay, I'm going to keep this review short, because it's probably not of a lot of interest to most of you. It is, however, of interest to me. Plus, I read it, so I have to review it. It's a weird compulsion.

My friend recommended some good adoption books to me, but I wasn't able to find any of the titles she suggested. Borders didn't have much in their Adoption section, but I did find The Ultimate Insider's Guide to Adoption by Elizabeth Swire Falker.

(Image from mybookshelf.com)

The "Insider" mentioned in the title is author Elizabeth Swire Falker, who is not only an adoptive mother, but also an adoption attorney. She walks prospective parents through the basics of both domestic and international adoption. The book is organized well, and very easy to read and understand. She apologizes more than once for the "dry" material, but really the book is very readable. Don't get me wrong - the writing is less than stellar, but it's not horrible either.
At this point, I don't know how relevant Falker's information is, but she seems well informed. The data in her book echoed what I have gleaned from websites, friends, and other adoption material. One third of the book is appendices of adoption agencies, lawyers, websites, etc. I haven't started checking them out yet, but I plan to. Anyway, I thought it was a good resource.
Does anyone have any other recommendations for adoption "how to" manuals or even fiction that talks about adoption? I'd love to hear about them.
Grade: B
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Okay, I feel like I have been rambling a lot in my recent posts. I'm going to quit while I'm ahead! For now, I'm going to be reading The Sister by Poppy Adams and Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin. I'm especially excited about the Le Guin book - it looks good, and this author is new to me. Look for a review soon!

7 comments:

  1. I'd love to know what you think about THE SISTER!

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  2. Sorry to hear you haven't been feeling well. It's funny you mention your 3-year old trashing the house. I remember when my boys were little and I had my wisdom teeth out, and they had the run of the house for a while. I haven't noticed ad placement yet in novels, but I think I probably wouldn't have noticed it before all the discussion, either. Something to watch for, I guess.

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  3. I don't like the whole ad placement stuff. I read a book that had a lot of brand names and pop culture references last year, and half the time I was frustrated because I didn't know of the brands she was talking about. It turns out I don't know everything there is to know about brands/pop culture so using such things in say...metaphors doesn't really make things a whole lot clearer for me. That, and you would think that referring to a lot of popular now brand names would make your book get really dated really quickly, and I can't think of why you'd want that, I mean, unless you're getting big payoffs from companies you're mentioning and are willing to let your (not so) literary masterpiece play second fiddle to that... which seems oddly self-defeating. Hmmm. Interesting.

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  4. Julie - I'm ashamed to admit I've only read the Prologue. It sounds interesting, though.

    Lisa - Yeah, my son had a great time doing whatever he wanted to. At least he took a 4 1/2 hour nap!

    Megan - I don't mind "ad placement" as long as it's not intrusive on the story.

    I agree, it's going to date the book. Not that people are going to be reading Carpe Demon 50 years from now anyway!

    You make a good point about not understanding the references. Julie Kenner seemed overly concerned about making the teenagers in the book seem real, so she constantly had them going to Gap, sampling Clinique makeup, etc. She also had them saying things like, "He's so not the bomb, Mom." Whatever.

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  5. Hi! I'm kind of new to your blog; I've tried posting before, but Blogger wouldn't let me. Here's hoping this one works!

    The ad placement issue is interesting. I have yet to read any books with it myself, but I feel like it would diminish the quality of the book, because it would be jarring.

    There's something not quite honest about it---I suppose I think of writers as artists who make choices in the interests of the story, and the idea that they would let money influence what they write is disturbing, even if it is just making a character drink Diet Coke instead of just pop. Anyway, you've given me something interesting to think about!

    No recommendation for adoption-related books, but when my aunt and uncle adopted internationally through their own church, they had a very positive experience. I only hope you're as blessed as we were when my cousin joined out family!

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  6. Poodle - Someone else complained that they couldn't post a comment here because it only allowed people with Blogger accounts to post. I had no idea it was set up that way, so I changed it. Hopefully, everyone (except spammers) can now comment.

    I don't know that Julie Kenner does receive incentives to use names of stores/products in her books. She probably doesn't, so I don't want to accuse her. I just thought she overused the brand names. It got annoying pretty quickly.

    I don't really mind the ad placement thing too much, because I do hate it when authors have to resort to using veiled descriptions of pop culture. My kids were watching an Arthur episode the other day where the characters were all excited about a new "Henry Scribner" movie - it was describing Harry Potter, but couldn't use the actual name Harry Potter because of copyright issues (I guess). That was truly annoying.

    So, anyway, an interesting issue ...

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  7. You're right, that is different. I suppose it's a balancing act for authors, to include brand names where it would be natural for real people to use them, but not to overuse them.

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