The Sunday Salon

August 24, 2008 at 10:14 am | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 6 Comments
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The Sunday

This week was by far less eventful than last week. For that I am very grateful. I was able to read two books: The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner and House and Home by Kathleen McCleary. I also posted my review of Pattern Recognition by William Gibson.

I became absolutely entranced by Juana La Loca while reading Gortner’s novel. Her story is tragic as she was betrayed by every man in her life, but she was such a strong woman. I hated that Jennifer was translated into Juanita in my high school Spanish classes. It wasn’t as sexy as Carmen or Pilar. It sounded plain to me. Now I would happily take on the name Juana for the strength and courage it signifies. Besides, what’s wrong with people thinking you might be crazy? They should be careful.

I read McCleary’s novel for one of the first TLC Book Tours, so you’re just going to have to come back on September 8th, when the tour reaches The Literate Housewife Review. This will be the second time I’ve participated in a virtual book tour. My first go round was for Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller. It was a good experience for me and I’m hoping that when Bethany from B&b ex libris is less bogged down we can get together with the author and hold a discussion.

This week I launched my first reading challenge: Expand Your Horizons. The object of this challenge is to exchange books with a friend who has different taste in books than you do. The first reviews for this challenge were Special Topics in Calamity Physics, written by my friend Mark and my review of Pattern Recognition. I’m hoping that Mark and I will do this again soon. It was a good experience for the both of us.

Marcia from The Printed Page will be sending me her copy of The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. I’ve been coveting this book ever since it was offered as an Early Review book through LibraryThing. Jen’s review at Devourer of Books only intensified it. I am so excited to be receiving it. Thanks, Marcia! I’m starting the next book I’ll be sending you today…

Which leads me to what I’m going to be reading this week. The first book up is The Seamstress by Frances De Pontes Pebbles. It is set in Brazil, a country I’ve never visited before and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a 600+ page book, but I’m thinking that it will read quickly. After that, I’m going to read Femme Fatale by Pat Shipman, which is a biography of Mata Hari. I’m really looking forward to this. I just discovered that she was a Dutch courtesan. One of my people… 😉

I’ve gotten a little behind in my blog reading, so I’m hoping to catch up on that tonight. I hope that everyone has had a wonderful week. Emma starts kindergarten tomorrow and after a great experience at her open house, she’s looking forward to it. That will help me keep my tears to a minimum. 😉

#95 ~ Pattern Recognition

August 23, 2008 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading | 2 Comments
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Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

I had never heard of William Gibson or the novel Pattern Recognition until it arrived on my front porch back in June, a gift from my good friend, Mark. What I found was an interesting novel that truly did stretch and challenge me as a reader. In fact, I will have to read this novel again because I was unable to grasp all that was being done.

Pattern Recognition tells the story or Cayce (pronounced Casey) Pollard, a woman highly in tune with up and coming trends. She, more than anyone else, sees patterns in dress, attitudes and interests on the streets. This awareness makes her opinions sought after by marketing departments developing new logos. She earns a very comfortable living providing these services and travels extensively. As a result of being so attuned to what will be cool or perhaps because of it, Cayce cannot stand being around logos and other corporate symbols. She does not wear brand named clothing. She considers it an allergy. Because of her phobia, I will never again look at the Michelin Man in the same way after reading this book.

For someone on the cutting edge of cool, Cayce is introverted and her hobby borders on geeky. Outside of her work her passion is to hang out on a board discussing clips of a movie that mysteriously and randomly appear on the Internet. With each new piece of footage that is discovered, the boards become increasingly active with theoretical discussions about the footage. Is it a completed piece? In what order are the clips being released. Is it or will it be a movie at all? Cayce’s best friend on her favorite board, f:f:f, is Parkaboy. He is very opinionated when it comes to the footage and is known to get into heated discussions with other members. This level of dedication and interest over clips reminds me quite a bit of those people I know who are obsessed with Star Trek, The X-Files, and other science fiction/paranormal favorites. In that way, Cayce strikes me as a hero for the everyday nerd. She dictates cool for the outside world while making her home among those who don’t follow the trends.

Much of the detail in this novel went straight over my head. There were large stretches where I felt that significant things were happening, but I missed them entirely. Reading those sections over again did not change that. Even as I finished the novel the pieces weren’t fitting together for me. There were also important themes, such as the antique calculators, that I really didn’t understand. For this reason, I will need to reread this novel. I want to find the patterns in the novel that I missed.

Despite feeling lost at times and not comprehending all that was happening, I enjoyed reading Pattern Recognition. I very much enjoyed getting to know Cayce and follow her along on her adventures and her trek to find out more about the footage. She goes from London to Paris to Moscow and in the midst of these big cities, she even sneaks in a reference to Roanoke, Virginia. What I was left with most of all, were interesting ideas that I continue to think about. What would life be like if I were allergic to or had a phobia of logos, mascots, and other visual forms of marketing? What does globalization mean? What importance does corporate marketing have in my life? I like to think I’m somewhat immune to all of the advertising I see on a daily basis, but am I really?

A novel that makes you ask questions and think about the larger issues in society. Somehow, I’m not surprised at all that this is one of Mark’s favorite books. We are going to have quite a bit to discuss the next time we’re together.


To buy this book, click here.


This is my inaugural review in my new Expand Your Horizons Reading Challenge. Click here for more information on how this started and how you can participate.


William Gibson won the 2004 Mary Shelley Award for Outstanding Fictional Work for Pattern Recognition. As such, this is my first review for the Book Awards Challenge II.

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