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Charleen Bunjiovianna (Redwood City, CA USA)
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A Painted House
A Painted House
by John Grisham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
245 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Plot's slowing, Granny, so bring on another natural disaster, March 29 2004
Luke Chandler, the protagonist/narrator, comes across an adult in a seven year old's skin. The dialogue is forced and at times beyond credulity. Luke chats up everyone as though they are his equal and has more world-wisdom than people three times his age.
The weather as a plot device gets a little thin. Winds, rain, extreme heat...oh, wait! We haven't had a tornado yet this season, so let's throw in TWO tornados. Then rainstorms and flooding that last for days. All of which would be somewhat more believable were it not that all this happens in less than six weeks. The book leaves you wondering why anyone would attempt to farm in Arkansas, as God surely has the entire state in his crosshairs.
Real farming is more tedious and less adventurous.
If you like extreme weather punctuated with brief episodes of multi-racial violence, this novel is for you...up until the last forty pages or so when it gets slower and slower and finally just runs out of steam at the end.
And don't worry about the multi-racial violence part. The only people who get killed in this book are the standard Southern White Guys Who Had It Comin'.

Marketing For Dummies
Marketing For Dummies
by Alexander Hiam
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.39

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Alex Hiam is the MAN!, March 28 2004
This review is from: Marketing For Dummies (Paperback)
I loved this book. Very accessible for non-MBAs, engaging and utterly readable. I got lots of ideas. Made me want to look into Hiam's other books.

Ebay Business the Smart Way
Ebay Business the Smart Way
by Joseph T. Sinclair
Edition: Paperback
24 used & new from CDN$ 0.78

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a smart buy for eBay business, March 28 2004
I have been selling fulltime on eBay for the last several years. There is nothing in this book that is not readily available elsewhere. And publishers, listen up: I'm getting a little tired of the text being padded with copious white space to make the tome more weighty.
Some parts of the book are out of date, some parts are just plain wrong. (It is NOT forbidden to sell food on eBay. It is NOT hazardous to buy or sell used clothing on eBay. On the contrary, it is a huge market. The list goes on and on.)
To be fair, trying to explain eBay is like describing a fast-moving sports car. Now you see it, now you don't. But I was not convinced the author was a seasoned eBay seller, merely a seasoned author of "about" books.

Never Buy Anything New: A Guide to 400 Secondhand, Thrift, and Consignment Stories in the Bay Area
Never Buy Anything New: A Guide to 400 Secondhand, Thrift, and Consignment Stories in the Bay Area
by Charlene Akers
Edition: Paperback
11 used & new from CDN$ 2.06

4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it's a great book but it's nearly 12 years old!, Dec 24 2003
_Never Buy Anything New_ was my shopping bible for several years in the mid-90s. It was starting to show its age (as such guides generally do) even then; I can't begin to imagine how many of the stores included therein have moved or gone out of business by now, 12 years after it was published(...)

Basket Case
Basket Case
by Carl Hiaasen
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 8.54
99 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carl Hiaasen is feelin' fine..., June 28 2003
There have been some slow patches in the Hiaasen oeuvre (_Lucky You_ comes to mind), but Carl Hiaasen is fit as a fiddle in this outing.
Jack Tagger is a death-obsessed obituary writer at a South Florida newspaper taken over by one of today's huge media conglomerates. Like most of Hiaasen's protagonists, he's doing penance for exhibiting a spot of integrity and still mooning over his ex-girlfriend, who is about to marry a daffy poet.
A name on a death notice catches his eye and he realizes the deceased is aka Jimmy Stoma of Jimmy and the Slut Puppies, who were famous for about 15 minutes and three albums back in the day. His editor doesn't want him to pursue the story but it's too good to resist, so he grabs an interview with the grieving widow, and once again Hiaasen is off to the races.
A darned-near perfect read. I loved the characters, especially Ike, the octogenarian fisherman. I finished the book in a day and started again at the beginning. May you find as much pleasure in it as I did.

50 Powerful Ideas To Keep Customers
50 Powerful Ideas To Keep Customers
by Paul Timm
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 10.91
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Based on real-life hard-nosed business experience? Nah!, May 4 2003
I don't usually go out of my way to rip business books (preferring instead to simply disrecommend them to everyone I know) but as a struggling business owner who used to be a customer service professional, I would hate to let this book go unremarked-upon. It reads as if it were written by a cranky consumer who wants to get even with every retail business who done him wrong. If you believe that The Customer Is Always Right is the unofficial Eleventh Commandment, you may like this book. But I have a few nits to pick.
First. I don't doubt that many of the "50 Powerful Ideas" would do much to enhance your company's image in the eyes of your customers. The question is: At what cost?
At no point in this book is cost EVER addressed. It simply doesn't seem to have entered the author's mind. Sure, in an ideal world where the small business owner doesn't have to keep a tight rein on expenses, keeping customers would be simple. Just give them Free Stuff, as Dr. Timm recommends.
Second. Anyone who has ever worked retail, either in a supervisory or front-line position, knows that there are customers who cannot be satisfied, do not have a legitimate complaint and are hoping you will give them Free Stuff to make them go away. They don't seem to exist in Dr. Timm's universe, however. I found this omission to be very puzzling.
Third. Dr. Timm quotes "generally accepted facts" about customer service in the preface. I guess that's to avoid having to give references to actual studies. I would counter Dr. Timm's generally accepted facts by pointing out that 86% of all statistics are made up.
To sum up, if you want to take advice from a Ph.D. who has written nearly 40 books and countless articles on customer service and communication, this may be the book for you. If you want hard-headed practical advice from people who've been in the trenches, you'd be better off contacting your local SCORE chapter.

One Door Away from Heaven
One Door Away from Heaven
by Dean Koontz
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
100 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars Simply dreadful. But some diehards will adore it., Jan. 11 2003
Formula Koontz: take an intelligent dog, a couple of morose people with big problems, an exotic premise, the imminent threat of our times, and what do you have?
More or less, about 10 bestsellers.
Okay, okay, sometimes a person plays the part of the intelligent dog. Happy?
I don't think Mr. Koontz has changed. I think I have changed. What once was fresh and unexpected, even quirky and delightful, is now just Koontzification. It comes with the landscape.
The last Koontz I liked was _Sole Survivor_. Possibly because the overtone of loss resonated so deeply with me at the time. Let's just leave it there and not bestir those old bones again.
Goodbye, Mr. Koontz.

Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter
Ten Things I Learned From Bill Porter
by Shelly Brady
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 26.00
52 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

2.0 out of 5 stars Flawed book but Bill Porter shines through, Jan. 9 2003
Like so many other people, I find Bill Porter deeply inspiring. Much has been written about the reactions Bill elicits in people, but this is a situation in which words fail most of us.
Bill is a product of an earlier, vanished time. I think that's a big part of his appeal. His genuine humility and determination mark him as an unwilling hero.
As others have commented, this slender tome is much too much about Shelly Brady and not enough about Bill. As Bill himself has said from time to time, he employed Shelly. She may be "an angel", but she was an angel on a salary.
If you can't imagine an associate of Mohatma Gandhi writing a book about Gandhi's teachings, but instead going on at length about his own obscure life, you won't like _Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter_. The "I" in the title seems to be the clue to the book's content.
I got through _Ten Things_ by skimming the Brady portions, but even the Bill anecdotes had a Shelly spin. I never felt a connection with the man. For that, you'll need to see _Door to Door_, now available on DVD right here on Amazon.com. It's a work of fiction, and yet it feels so much more real.

Mr. Wonderful
Mr. Wonderful
VHS

2.0 out of 5 stars Sleepwalking, June 16 2002
This review is from: Mr. Wonderful (VHS Tape)
Anthony Minghella (Truly, Madly, Deeply; The English Patient; The Talented Mr. Ripley) makes movies with a lot of heart, but I can only guess he was sleepwalking through this one. I found the protagonists unlikeable and cringed every time they started shrieking at each other. Dillon plays a commitment-phobic (wow, we've never seen that in a man before) ConEd worker whose main hobbies are banging his much-too-nice-for-him nurse girlfriend and yelling at his ex-wife, the lovely Annabella Sciorra.
Solid supporting cast, though, with the ever-excellent Vincent D'Onofrio as a pharmacist most any woman would fall for and Dan Hedaya as a ConEd co-worker. Both make the most of the thin material they're given to work with.

The Brethren
The Brethren
by John Grisham
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 25.20
226 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Leaves you wondering "What was he THINKING?", Jan. 20 2002
This review is from: The Brethren (Hardcover)
_The Brethren_ is an untidy mess of a book, apparently written without any regard for reading pleasure. As others have pointed out, there is absolutely no admirable character drawn here. Worse, some of the least admirable characters (I won't say which) are richly rewarded at book's end.
This book makes no sense, but it fulfilled its purpose in making quite a few dollars for Mr. Grisham (who has wisely given up writing "thrillers").
The first few chapters are written with the old Grisham sense of humor and irony, but all that follows just plods on to a tedious conclusion.

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