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Friday, March 28, 2014

Every Guest a Hero

Every Guest is a Hero: Disney's Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic StorytellingEvery Guest is a Hero: Disney's Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling by Adam M. Berger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

I haven't been to Disney Parks in many years. When I was there, I really didn't think about epic journeys or Innermost Caves or anything like that. I just wanted to get on the ride as quick as possible and not spend all day in line. (This was before Fastpass, which allows guests to bypass the line.) I noticed that Disney spent a lot of time on its waiting area, but I thought it was just to keep everyone occupied while they were waiting in line, especially going by the sign that says "Your expected wait time is 60 minutes." I also knew that Disney was good at storytelling. Now, as Adam Berger informs us, this was all part of the mythic design, to make the guest feel like a hero. He goes through an introduction of the myth-making story of Disney, and then describes 10 rides in detail through the lens of Joseph Campbell's theories about myths and epic adventures. I don't know if all rides are like this--I don't remember any kind of epic journey on It's a Small World--but he does a reasonably good job of explaining everything. I think at times the epic part can go overboard trying to fit epic journeys into the rides. Quite frankly, for most people getting to the end of the ride by itself is epic enough. It does say something about Disney's attitude, though. If they put this much effort into the waiting area of the ride, they really care about the guest experience. It may be a lesson for other businesses as well. The customer needs to feel like they're valued, and not just for their money. They need to feel like they're part of something special. In my experience, this can be rare. The epic journey in a lot of cases is getting through to talk to someone in customer service. Push 1 for this department, push 2 for that department, isn't what customers want. All in all, a good book, and recommended reading for any business pro, or anyone who wants to know more about what's behind all that stuff in the waiting line at Disney.

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Keeping Merminia (Merminia, #2)Keeping Merminia by Emm Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This sounded a little familiar. A group of warriors crossing over land searching for a ring. It was a little jarring at first, switching from 3rd person in the original to alternating 1st person here. After a while I got used to it. I thought the ending was open ended. I wanted to find out what happened to everyone. *Spoiler alert* I didn't realize until the end that Walter was speaking in the prologue. If there isn't going to be a 3rd book, I would have liked to see an epilogue with Walter to round out the story. Otherwise, a good book.

This review also appears on

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a review.

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Merminia (Merminia, #1)Merminia by Emm Cole
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting take on mermaids. Most books have mermaids as a totally perfect kingdom, where everyone lives in harmony, and the only problems arise when they interact with humans. The Litiant empire reminds me of the Roman Empire. I thought it left itself open for a sequel, which there was. At first, I got lost in the characters, but I eventually got into it. All in all, a good book.

This review (and rating) also appear on I received a free copy from the author in exchange for a review.

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Vienna Nocturne: A NovelVienna Nocturne: A Novel by Vivien Shotwell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free ARC from a Goodreads giveaway. My review is based on the ARC, so some elements of the book may change between the ARC and the final published copy.

This book starts out in 1776, when young Anna Storace is just starting her singing career. It soon jumps ahead to her career in Vienna. She meets many of the composers of the day. One of the first she meets is Salieri. I immediately flashed back to Amadeus, and figured that when Salieri was mentioned, Mozart would be appearing soon enough. And, shortly after this, there he was. The book details Anna's romantic life, especially with Mozart, who was already married at the time. Anna herself marries the abusive John Fisher, and gives birth to a child who dies shortly after birth. It continues through the closing concert in Vienna in 1787, then jumps ahead to 1801. (These are not spoiler alerts. These are historical facts. Here is the link to the Wikipedia article on Anna: )

Obviously, anytime you blend fact and fiction, some elements are going to be changed. The relationship between Mozart and Anna was probably fiction. Also, *Spoiler Alert* the novel has Anna's baby dying within a week of birth, when in reality the baby lived for 6 months. The music descriptions are excellent, but given that the author is a singer herself, this should be expected.

The one flaw I found in the book was the ending. It seemed a bit too abrupt. *Spoiler alert* After her farewell concert in Vienna in 1787, the book quotes 3 letters, then jumps ahead to her return concert in Vienna in 1801. It stops right before the concert starts. It reminded me of the title cards at the end of a movie telling what happened to the characters. I would have liked a little more description of the years between 1787 and 1801, as well as some of the years after 1801 (she died in 1817.) Otherwise, a very good book.

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