Archive for February, 2010

Interview – Alan Markovitz – Topless Prophet

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Rhodes Review: What are some lessons you learned that can be applied to other businesses?

Alan Markovitz: Many lessons are applicable, such as these:

  • Never stand still, especially when you’re leading the competition.  Whatever strategic advantage you have is short lived and can be copied.  Keep looking to reinvent, expand, upgrade or overhaul.  When you’re on a roll, look for the next and best opportunity to extend your winning streak or more accurately, project your formula, and capture as much market share as you can afford to.
  • Don’t be intimidated.  I was once threatened by a competing South Florida club when we opened up for business and some “Wise Guys” told us to get out of town.  I ended up testifying against the Mob for the Feds.
  • If you sleep with the help, you might need help.  In my single days, young and feeling wealthy and powerful, I would sample my talent.  However, it’s easy to get distracted and lose control over someone who not only works for you but you sleep with.  Avoid the conflicts and headaches and keep away from the staff.
  • Stand up for your rights or you’ll never be taken seriously.  This was true when I had to resort to litigation, on numerous occasions, even in a losing battle.  But you must also know what’s worth fighting for and when to throw in the towel.
  • The rules can change on you overnight.  My South Florida business went into the toilet when laws were changed to prevent nudity in a place where alcohol was served.  You never can see it coming and when it hits, you need to determine when to walk away.
  • Have a vision and follow it.  I knew early on, when I first set foot in a topless club as a teenaged patron that I wanted to own a strip club.  I got a job there, learned the business, and then became a co-owner.  I wanted to create a first-class adult entertainment center that would be visited upon by celebrities and athletes.  I wanted to take a blue-collar industry and give it a white collar.  It’s worked out well.
  • You can manage through any crisis.  I did.  I survived two different life-threatening shootings.  I survived my club being raided and smeared.  I survived some bad business deals.  I worked with a partner for a period of time while he was on trial for arranging my murder.  I dealt with corrupt politicians, dirty cops, and out-of-control patrons.  The key is to stay focused on the prize and know that much of your success is related to how you manage problems.
  • Come back from a setback, wiser and more determined.  I learned a costly lesson when a business deal went sour and cost me a million bucks.  I was swindled by sleaze but if I wasn’t aggressive and gutsy in business I wouldn’t have all the hits and successes that I have had.  I’ll take a loss that’s short term and temporary if in the end I’m on top.
  • Experiment and take a chance.  I tried a few new things that in the end didn’t pay off but unless you try new ideas, you won’t get to succeed.  I tried the idea of arranging for strippers on a golf course.  I also chartered flights to Las Vegas that featured performing strippers.
  • Believe it or not, the way to make money is not always through your core talent.  Sure, the 300+  dancers that work at one of my clubs bring in money, but we make our real money off of alcohol, cigars, food, and merchandise.  Always look at the extra ways you can turn a buck.
  • Link with a brand name. In Detroit, our Penthouse Gentlemen’s Club is striking gold and the Philadelphia branch of the Penthouse Club just opened this summer to great fanfare. There are only a handful of Penthouse clubs in the U.S.  The name represents quality, security, and the assumption you’ll be treated well as a patron.
  • In business, you can afford to be a little bit early in striking a deal, but you can’t be a second too late.  Better to leave something on the table than to lose the whole tamale through greed.

Rhodes Review: Have you had to battle a lot (you mentioned one example in your book) with protest groups?

Alan Markovitz: Oh sure. Every day is a battle. In my home town of Detroit the local government wants to make the laws more restrictive for clubs like mine. We have a recession that is hitting us harder than most parts of the country. And we always have potential problems with protest groups. Some groups out there believe there is something wrong with people enjoying beautiful women. We need to get over it. Nudity is perfectly normal.

Rhodes Review:  How does economy (such as the recent problems) affect your business?

Alan Markovitz: All business can be hurt by the poor economy, but luckily, we’ve been hurt far less than others. Certainly, business account spending and business trip clients are down. But there is no shortage of individuals who want the company of a beautiful woman for the price of a lap dance.

Rhodes Review: What caused the contract to be put out on you?

Alan Markovitz: At a club I had owned some years ago my partner had a contract put out on me. He wanted the club to himself. I had to work side by side with him for 6 months after he was arrested for trying to hire someone to kill me, until the FBI got its trial going. Worst of all, he was acquitted.

Rhodes Review: Where do you see your business headed in the future?

Alan Markovitz: Unless technology can duplicate the touch of a woman, my business will be around a long time. I envision government laws to become less restrictive over time. The process of mainstreaming the acceptance of the club experience is happening.

Rhodes Review: What is the most unusual story that’s occurred in your business?

Alan Markovitz: It’s a business filled with many unusual stories and people. I mention dozens of such odd situations in my book. For instance, I was shot not once, but twice, at my club. I wasn’t robbed or anything – once was by an off-duty cop who shot me accidentally and the other was a dancer I had dated who wasn’t happy when fired her for turning tricks on club premises.


The Sea of Monsters – Rick Riordan

Friday, February 26th, 2010

 

 

Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion (March 20, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1423103343
ISBN-13: 978-1423103349 
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Percy Jackson is back for his second adventure. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll know that Percy is a demi-god. His father is Poseidon. We get introduced to some new friends for Percy in this book, and some new enemies. Camp Half-Blood is under attack. The Tree protecting the border is dying. A quest is given to go and find the one item that will restore the tree’s health. That item is a legendary part of Greek Myths, I won’t say so you can discover for yourself. But Percy finds himself dragged into this quest, along with new friend Tyson, Annabeth, and Clarisse, the heroes must find this item, and rescue Percy’s friend Grover.

There are many comical situations in this book, particular in the Grover storyline. Through Percy we’re once again introduced to some of the Greek myth characters. I won’t say which ones, because that’s part of the fun. I find these books very enjoy. Sure they’re geared toward a younger person, but having grown up with movies like Hercules and Clash of the Titans, it takes me back to the magic of those times.

I think that this would be a great book for Father’s/Son’s, and even Mother’s and Daughters. There are strong, heroic female characters, and male characters. Some seems may be a little intense, but not graphic.

You can discuss it here or comment on it here.


Complicit “How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable” – Mark Gilbert

Friday, February 26th, 2010

 

 

Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Bloomberg Press; 1 Edition (February 10, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1576603466
ISBN-13: 978-1576603468
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People were losing their jobs. They were losing their homes. A lot of people weren’t sure what would happen to them next. This was all due to the recent credit crisis. But do you know how it happened? Do you understand who all the players were and what they were doing? Mark Gilbert answers a lot of those questions in Complicit. One of the beginning factors he states, was people more or less getting greedy. They were using their houses as ATM machines. The way they did this is they would take their equity money. Using this money, they would buy things like Ipods, Iphones, Big Screen TV’s, Blue Ray Players, and all against their equity. When the housing prices began dropping, people began finding they were unable to pay off their credit.

Mr. Gilbert covers everything that could be thought of. He covers AIG, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and how it didn’t just affect the U.S. but the world also. I found it a truly interesting book, and Mr. Gilbert was very good at going through each factor and illustrating how the financial object worked, and how things done to recover were good and bad. For example, Lehman Brothers/Bear Stearns. He states that the problem with the bank bailouts, was pretty much that if one bank (even if necessary) were bailed out, then the others had no reason to try and pull themselves out.

This whole credit crisis issue has affected many people out there, and regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall on, you’ll find this book informative. The author doesn’t assign blame to one political party, or the other, but to greed and collusion within the financial industry.

Pick it up and I almost guarantee you’ll learn a lot about recent events.

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by Anna at FSB Associates.  Thanks go to her for this book.  It didn’t affect my review in any way.

You can discuss it here or leave comments here. Read the Excerpt below:

The Great Credit Bubble
by Mark Gilbert,
Author of Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable 

Where did the money come from? Where did it go? How was this allowed to happen? Who is to blame? These are the key questions surrounding the credit crunch that has engulfed the global financial system. 

The answer, in part, is that there wasn’t anywhere near as much money as there seemed to be. And because it didn’t exist in the first place, the money hasn’t gone anywhere. It was all an illusion, although the economic consequences of its disappearance turned out to be very real indeed. 

As to how it was allowed to happen and who is to blame, in a sense the honest reply is that we all allowed it to happen, and we’re all to blame, either as active accomplices or complicit bystanders. Society as a whole made a collective, unconscious decision to allow the banking system to grow unchecked because the tangible benefits that seemed to accrue from unbridled capitalism outweighed the intangible hazards that might accompany this dangerous test of capitalism’s limits. 

Consider an analogous bit of history. In nineteenth-century Britain, physicians finally began to understand human physiology, working out the body’s geography by mapping veins and arteries, dissecting eyes and hearts, and manipulating bones and joints. The new knowledge promised to usher in a period of unprecedented medical advancement. 

Religious beliefs and general distaste, however, meant that few people would send the corpses of deceased relatives to the gurneys of surgeons with eager scalpels. After all, how could a dismembered body pass through the gates of heaven? Surgeons instead dissected the bodies of executed criminals, who lost dominion over their body parts’ destination upon conviction.

But — even fueled by the era’s commonplace executions — supply was insufficient to meet demand. A shadowy secondary market in cadavers developed; those who died in a hospital and weren’t quickly claimed by their loved ones moved from mortuaries to teaching hospitals, sold by undertakers and bought by physicians. Even those claimed by family and properly buried could be dug up and sold to satiate the needs of the anatomists. 

The authorities — both legal and medical — turned a blind eye to the practice of grave robbing, while the general public remained ignorant about how doctors were getting smarter. For society as a whole, it was a win-win situation — until a pair of entrepreneurs called William Burke and William Hare decided to circumvent the waiting time demanded by nature, started murdering for profit, and brought the whole grisly, underhanded process into the open.

A similar conspiracy of vested interests caused the credit crunch. Any banker, trader, investor, or economist asked to invent the perfect financial market environment for creating global wealth beyond the wildest dreams of avarice would have come up with a list of conditions similar to those that have prevailed for the past decade. 

Like those of Burke and Hare, these good times have ended with an almighty bang, not a whimper, wiping out the nest eggs of millions of workers by destroying stock market values around the world, undermining ordinary savers’ confidence in the safety of the banking system, and exposing deep fault lines in the philosophy of capitalism. The financial community, through a deadly combination of greed and hubris, fouled its own sandpit. The era of munificent money-making conditions — regulation and oversight so gentle as to be almost invisible, ever-faster data and information flows, freely available credit at super-low interest rates, unprecedented access to investors all around the world, and oil-enriched buyers of any investment yielding north of zero — is over. 

The global financial authorities — the elected politicians who decree the legal framework within which finance operates; the unelected central banks charged with tending the economy, the regulators responsible for creating and enforcing safety rules; the money managers entrusted with nurturing the future incomes of widows, orphans, and hordes of other savers; and the people paying themselves millions of dollars to run the investment banks — all looked the other way. They operated under the belief that the monetary benefits accruing to society from incessant, unprecedented, and essentially unregulated growth in the securities industry more than outweighed any of the attendant risks. 

In the U.S., the rising economic tide was seen to lift all boats, underlining the political triumph of capitalism over socialism and communism. In Europe, increased prosperity helped cement the decades-old dream of a common currency, binding nations closely enough to nullify the nagging conflicts that gave rise to two world wars, with the U.K. playing a supporting role as the unofficial treasurer to its continental, euro-embracing neighbors, even as it clung stubbornly on to its own currency. And across swathes of Asia, globalization and growing international trade helped fund the transition from agrarian to manufacturing economies, with governments offering compensatory affluence to avert discussions about democracy and voting systems, thereby blunting the risk of social unrest. 

The list of credit crunch perpetrators is long. Realtors appraised houses at fictitious levels. Lenders granted mortgages to people who couldn’t pay. Aspiring homeowners bought properties that they couldn’t afford, taking on debt burdens they couldn’t support. Frankenstein bankers cobbled together nasty parts of different markets, creating instruments they couldn’t value or control. Credit rating companies stamped their highest seals of approval on nearly anything and everything that crossed their desks. Traders invented prices they couldn’t justify. Investors bought securities they didn’t understand. And there are thousands and thousands of fleas on the financial dog; armies of lawyers and accountants earned their livings during the past decade by scrutinizing deals or by getting paid to rubberstamp transactions. 

The people in the world of high finance aren’t stupid. For at least a decade, the finest graduates of universities all over the globe have been drawn to Wall Street and its counterparts in the world’s biggest cities. Little wonder, then, that market regulators struggled to either find or retain talented staff, when the rewards for jumping the fence and becoming a poacher rather than a gamekeeper were so rich. Investment banks and hedge funds became employment black holes, sucking in talent to the detriment of arguably more productive, clearly less lucrative disciplines, such as engineering and science. 

The credit crunch wasn’t caused so much by a confederacy of dunces as by a silent conspiracy of the well rewarded. And most of the participants aren’t fraudsters (albeit with some notable exceptions), nor are they evil or malicious. But everyone involved collectively suspended disbelief, a mass self-induced myopia to the possibility that anything could go wrong, because the financial rewards for playing along were so compelling. Excerpted from COMPLICIT by Mark Gilbert, with permission of Bloomberg Press (February 2010).

 Author Bio
Mark Gilbert, author of Complicit: How Greed and Collusion Made the Credit Crisis Unstoppable, is bureau chief for Bloomberg News in London, has been with Bloomberg News since 1991 and has written a regular column on global financial issues since 1998. He spent more than eighteen months warning about the impending credit crisis, later helping readers disentangle its consequences. He frequently appears as a commentator on Bloomberg Television.


How to Achive a Heaven on Earth – Edited by John E. Wade II

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

 

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Pelican Publishing (January 11, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1589805976
ISBN-13: 978-1589805972
Order from here:
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I will try to love and help create a heaven on earth,” so begins the premise of How to Achieve a Heaven on Earth.  The author breaks the book down into 10 sections:

  • Peace – This section contains various essays on working toward Peace discussing things such as Gandhi’s views on Peace, the U.N.s work in Darfur, etc.
  • Security – These essays contain among other things, looks at our fuel crisis and the war on Drugs.  The authors of these 2 particular essays seemed to make a lot of sense.  The section on Fuel choices covers Flexible fuel.  In Brazil, for instance, more that 80% of their new cars are flexible fuel vehicles.  A flex fuel vehicle can run on not only gas, but other things such as Ethanol and other fuels.  They state that by reducing our use of oil, and increasing the use of other fuels, we accomplish two goals.  One goal, is that the oil rich countries, some of which sponsor terrorism, would no longer have the financial resources.  The other benefit would be that poverty stricken countries that can produce corn and other fuel sources, would increase their sales of these products, and thus manage to lift themselves above the poverty levels.   In the War on Drugs, the basic premise is that much of our crime problem is due to the illegality of drugs.  These drugs, it’s argued are going to be purchased regardless.  By removing the illegal aspect, you cut down on costs for imprisonment and you break the profit motive for the dealers/importers.  The largest percentage of drug abusers in the U.S. are White, while the largest percentage of those incarcerated are African American.  I thought this was an interesting concept, but for both I am still trying to see how they could be carried out.
  • Freedom
  • Democracies
  • Prosperity – Some interesting essays here as well, one of them was on The Grameen Bank, a bank who makes loans to the poorest people living in the poorest countries.  What I found interesting was that they have almost a 98% payback.  People think if you make loans with no collateral, that the person would just take the money and run, but it didn’t seem to be the case here.
  • Spiritual Harmony
  • Racial Harmony – These essays look at racial issues.  One looks at Nelson Mandela, rather than have hatred about his treatment, he chose to rise above it and work for harmony among people.
  • Ecological Harmony – These essays are about all the different ways we can help out in Nature.  It’s not all Tree Hugging, save the cute Fuzzy animals stuff, but covers things like the Joy of Gardening, and how supporting your local farmer’s market, is not only healthier, but economically sound.
  • Health
  • Moral Purpose and Meaning

It’s kind of hard to review a compilation of essays.   Sometimes the essay is a little more powerful than other times.  That was the case here.  There were many, where I found myself wishing a group of my friends had the book to discuss the ideas.  There are many essays in here that would make great group discussion topics.  While some seemed far fetched, they never failed to make me think.  I think it’s a book that everyone should read.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re conservative or liberal, Democrat or Republican, Foreign or Domestic, you’ll find something in this book that will give you ideas on how you can make a difference in the world.  Creating a Heaven on Earth isn’t about a Utopian society, that can never happen.  But we can work on how we relate to the people and the world around us.

NOTE: If you click on the Amazon link above and purchase a copy of this book, our personal payments will be given to Soldiers of Love a charity formed by the author. In addition, half of all the editor’s royalties will go to this charity.

Here’s an Excerpt from the book, Thanks Julie:

10 Ways to Achieve a Heaven on Earth

The underlying trends toward a heaven on earth are often obscured by the “noise” of the day, pessimism and cynicism. But I believe that with God’s enduring, steadfast love humankind will ultimately reach a heaven on earth. The ten elements that I believe are essential in this quest are as follows:

1) Peace:
The major keys to peace lie in our ability to prosper and spread democracies worldwide. Going beyond toleration to respect of all loving faiths is also critical. Advancing to general acceptance and appreciation across racial lines will build peace within and between nations.

2) Security:
We must strive to gain security from terrorism and crime. It is critical that we stop radical Islamics. History is replete with fanatics such as Hitler who somehow gain power with genocide and aggression. Recognizing the danger and acting internationally through winning minds and hearts without letting up on international pressure are essential to a victory over terrorism. For example see Paul Marek’s powerful essay, “A Look at Radical Islam” and James K. Glassman’s persuasive contribution, “How to Win the War of Ideas.”

3) Freedom: Freedom is prized by all humans whether they currently possess it or not. Implicit in the democratic ideal is that free individuals will generally act in their own best interests. And the sum of a free society’s actions will allow a greater whole than with nations who repress its people.

4) Democracies:
Democracies worldwide in the long run would be the best kind of government for reaching and enjoying a heaven on earth, for they empower the individual and ultimately societies to make good choices. History has shown that democratic governments are less likely to make war with one another. Additionally, they discourage tyrants who are corrupted by power. Democracies provide for the orderly transfer of power. However, we must realize that elections don’t necessarily produce the best leader in every case.

5) Prosperity:
Capitalism tempered with democracy and free, fair trade can lead to worldwide growth and wealth, which can benefit each of us and all of us to the degree that our own talents and resources permit. Preparation and opportunity go hand in hand with self-discipline and hard work. Each of us must strive for financial literacy and make it our business to know what we own. We have a responsibility beyond ourselves in our wealth. We are not meant to love money, but to treat it with respect and be generous toward worthy ends.

6) Spiritual Harmony:
We must move beyond religious tolerance to real respect among all the world’s loving spiritual beliefs and practices. Even differing beliefs can lead to similar values, which in turn may lead to behavior that is acceptable to God. Loving religions teach us how to live our lives and how to cope with our own mortality. God’s enduring, steadfast love will empower us here, just as I firmly believe that love will allow all the other elements.

7) Racial Harmony:
While the lack of racial harmony goes back to ancient times, that certainly doesn’t mean that we can’t overcome this obstacle. Our nation has moved forward largely by peaceful means over recent decades, including the election of an African American president. Many other nations have also advanced in this march toward racial harmony. In our country we owe much of this nonviolent racial progress to Martin Luther King, Jr. See “Where Do We Go From Here?” in that great leader’s own words. The Golden Rule is especially important in treating others with respect.

8) Ecological Harmony: We must tend to the world’s God-given environment — emphasizing natural beauty and perpetual conservation. Concurrently, we must achieve a balance between those worthy goals and the necessity of rescuing those in abject poverty as well as maintaining all nations’ economic progress.

9) Health:
Technology and medical science are vital to advance the health of the world’s population. Additionally, our own physical, mental and spiritual habits must embody disciplines that promote good health. Death is inevitable until God acts to prevent it, but wholesome, active behavior can result in longer and longer lives as medical science, our habits and economic means progress.

10) Moral Purpose and Meaning:  Moral purpose and meaning is perhaps the hardest element to achieve. We do not always do the right thing day by day. Our DNA and environments are not perfect. We have weaknesses that can result in horrors such as the Holocaust. But our flaws do not mean that a nurturing environment can’t lead to success after success until God finally takes over and pulls us out of the misery of our human condition.

When you consider the above, think about this excerpt from the New Testament, Matthew 19:26, “with God all things are possible.”

The above is an adapted excerpt from the book How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers edited by John E. Wade II. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 John E. Wade II, editor of How to Achieve Heaven on Earth: 101 insightful essays from the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and writers

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by Julie at FSB Associates.  Thanks go to her for this book.  It didn’t affect my review in any way.

You can discuss it here. So now it’s your turn readers, tell me how you think Heaven on Earth could be achieved? Let’s try to keep it non-political, and just look at issues.


Who Owns the World – Kevin Cahill and Rob McMahon

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

 

 

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 29, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0446581216
ISBN-13: 978-0446581219
Order from here:
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Have you ever wondered who owned the most property in Venezuela.  This book will tell you.  It covers nearly every country, describes how the land is divided, and who owns the majority of it.  You’d be shocked to find out that the U.S. Government owns 84-85% of Nevada.  Queen Elizabeth owns about 1/6th of the entire world.  The two biggest landowners in the U.S. are the Federal Government and Ted Turner.  The receipt of this book coincided with the Earthquake in Haiti.  I wrote in a separate article about what I discovered regarding Haiti from reading it.  One of the most shocking things was that the Average Haitian earns about $560 per year, while the average American earns $31,000.   Why is this important?  It goes to showing one of the main points of this book.  That being that lack of land ownership leads to poverty situations.  In most poverty stricken areas, the rich minority own the majority of the property, and others just lease the property.  A lot of this goes back to the old ideas of serfdom.

It was a very interesting book, packed with a ton of information.  It would be great for those interested in Bar Bets.  But it’s a nice reference book to have on hand, and very informative to see where some of the probems in the world might come from.  If you get a chance to get a copy of this book, pick it up, I think you’ll find it informative.

You can discuss it here or leave comments here.

Valerie at provided me with two quizzes related to the book:

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by Valerie at Hachette Book Group.  Thanks go to her for this book, and for the recent giveaway.  It didn’t affect my review in any way.


Witch & Wizard – James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Monday, February 8th, 2010

 

 

Reading Level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (12/14/09)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316036242
ISBN-13: 978-0316036245
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Wisteria and Whitney, a brother and sister who lead a normal life, or so they thought. Overnight a new national leader is born. The two heroes find themselves at odds with this leader. They’re also discovering that their life isn’t normal after all. Wist is a witch, and Whit is a wizard. Throughtout the course of the book, like with others in this genre, they’ll learn to harness their new powers.

I noticed this book had a lot of criticism’s on Amazon. I don’t think it was a bad story. I enjoyed it. Was it a deep, dark fantasy for adults, no. It was geared toward younger readers. There was nothing in it I could find (outside of magic) that parents would find themselves offended by. It was a little disconcerting the way the author kept switching from one person to the other in telling the story. If not for the name at the beginning of each chapter, I wouldn’t have been certain of who was talking. That style, to me made it seem as if it were one of those games that I used to play. The one where I would write one paragraph of a story, and then it was your turn, and back and forth. I’m not sure how much of this James Patterson wrote, or how much was written by Gabrielle Charbonnet. So that at times was a little distracting, because the tone didn’t change from character to character.

Overall though, I think it was a fun book. I’d say the age group is more geared towards 10/11 year olds, and 10/11 year olds that are reading at their level. I liked the story though, and the setting, and would myself go out and get the next book in the series.

You can discuss it here or leave a comment here


Venom – Joan Brady

Monday, February 8th, 2010

 

 

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Touchstone (August 3, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0743270118
ISBN-13: 978-0743270113 
Order from here:
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Characters

Helen Freyl
David Marion
Rebecca Freyl
Sir Charles Hay

Overview

David Marion and the Freyl family were first introduced in Joan Brady’s novel Bleedout. This novel is a thriller set against a backdrop of Corporate control. A cure/protection against radiation poisoning has been discovered. The secret lies in the venom of a rare breed of honey bees. These bees are grown on a farm in Alabama, a farm owned by Helen Freyl.

Two companies are competing for the rights to this venom. And one of them is willing to go to any lengths to obtain it.

Review

I’m still not sure where things were really going with this book. It seems at times that I was reading a novel set in many different Genre’s. The romance between Sir Charles Hay and Helen Freyl made me feel like a was watching a Hepburn/Tracy film with a stronger rating. I had problems getting into the character of Helen Freyl, and even caring whether she made it through to the end. In fact, I wasn’t really sure I cared who got the venom rights. David Marion though, was an interesting character. The storyline involving him started off with a bang.

Things though just never seemed to gel. There didn’t seem to be a lot of danger for the characters until the final 1/3rd of the book. Helen was a bit irritating. For some unexplained reason, she seemed to have problems with a normal response. She’d just start yelling at a person, and cursing them. It seemed rather over-used at times, and gratuitous. A former con like David, I could have seen it being a part of his character.

I wanted to like this book. I never like reading a book and not liking it, and in particular I don’t like the idea of saying in public that I wasn’t crazy about it. But in this case I wasn’t. The problem could be that I couldn’t relate to the characters, particularly to Helen. It could be that the sense of danger was never there. It could have been that it was an advanced copy. The actual book isn’t published until August of 2010, so it’s possible there will be change made between the version I read and the final copy. A different person might read this and really enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea.

If I were to give it a rating, I’d say PG-13 for use of strong language, and strong content. I don’t want to dissuade you from reading it, because you may actually enjoy it.

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by Simon and Schuster U.K.. It didn’t affect my review in any way.

You can discuss it here or leave comments here.


The Path of the Blue Raven – Mark Townsend

Monday, February 8th, 2010

 

 

Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: O Books (November 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1846942381
ISBN-13: 978-1846942389 
Order from here:
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Mark Townsend was a Vicar with the Church of England. He is also a stage magician. Currently he stands somewhere on the religious path between Druidism and Christianity. This book is a story of how he became disenchanted with the Church. It’s also a tale about the need to re-achieve the magic that some lose, and how to regain that magic.

I found the book very interesting. The introspective look he takes at himself, I think could help anyone with a desire to be more spiritual. Like many others in the world, he sees something broken in religion or as he calls it “Churchianity”. Along his path, it seems, he’s managed to re-discover God in all the natural wonder and magic around him.

The last section of the book are essays contributed by people along various paths of religion. It covers Celtic-Christians, Druidic Christians, Pagan Druids, and Native American/Celtics. I really liked these essays, particularly the one pertaining to the correlation between the Choctaw people here and the Celtic people in Ireland.

If you can get a copy of this book, and you want to be a more spiritual person, but not follow a set pattern of rules, then pick it up. I think you’d probably enjoy it.

*Disclaimer* A review copy of this book was provided by John Hunt Publishing Unlmited. Thanks  Sarah.  It didn’t affect my review in any way.

You can leave a comment here or discuss it here


Guest Post: Alan Markovitz, Author – Topless Prophet

Monday, February 8th, 2010

15 Business Tips

from the Topless Prophet

Alan Markovitz

1.      Choose your business partners wisely.  Everyone is looking to take more than their fair share.  One of my partners was my dad, who provided good business sense from his ownership of a TV repair shop, extra capital, and a trust that couldn’t be breached.  Another partner of mine was arrested by the FBI for hiring two hit men for $12,000 to kill me.  You’ve gotta find a partner with good judgment and good-sized cojones.

2.      Never stand still, especially when you’re leading the competition.  Whatever strategic advantage you have is short lived and can be copied.  Keep looking to reinvent, expand, upgrade or overhaul.  When you’re on a roll, look for the next and best opportunity to extend your winning streak or more accurately, project your formula, and capture as much market share as you can afford to.

3.      Don’t be intimidated.  I was once threatened by a competing South Florida club when we opened up for business and some “Wise Guys” told us to get out of town.  I ended up testifying against the Mob for the Feds.

4.      If you sleep with the help, you might need help.  In my single days, young and feeling wealthy and powerful, I would sample my talent.  However, it’s easy to get distracted and lose control over someone who not only works for you but you sleep with.  Avoid the conflicts and headaches and keep away from the staff.

5.      Stand up for your rights or you’ll never be taken seriously.  This was true when I had to resort to litigation, on numerous occasions, even in a losing battle.  But you must also know what’s worth fighting for and when to throw in the towel.

6.      The rules can change on you overnight.  My South Florida business went into the toilet when laws were changed to prevent nudity in a place where alcohol was served.  You never can see it coming and when it hits, you need to determine when to walk away.

7.      Have a vision and follow it.  I knew early on, when I first set foot in a topless club as a teenaged patron that I wanted to own a strip club.  I got a job there, learned the business, and then became a co-owner.  I wanted to create a first-class adult entertainment center that would be visited upon by celebrities and athletes.  I wanted to take a blue-collar industry and give it a white collar.  It’s worked out well.

8.      You can manage through any crisis.  I did.  I survived two different life-threatening shootings.  I survived my club being raided and smeared.  I survived some bad business deals.  I worked with a partner for a period of time while he was on trial for arranging my murder.  I dealt with corrupt politicians, dirty cops, and out-of-control patrons.  The key is to stay focused on the prize and know that much of your success is related to how you manage problems.

9.      Come back from a setback, wiser and more determined.  I learned a costly lesson when a business deal went sour and cost me a million bucks.  I was swindled by sleaze but if I wasn’t aggressive and gutsy in business I wouldn’t have all the hits and successes that I have had.  I’ll take a loss that’s short term and temporary if in the end I’m on top.

10.  Experiment and take a chance.  I tried a few new things that in the end didn’t pay off but unless you try new ideas, you won’t get to succeed.  I tried the idea of arranging for strippers on a golf course.  I also chartered flights to Las Vegas that featured performing strippers.

11.  Believe it or not, the way to make money is not always through your core talent.  Sure, the 300+  dancers that work at one of my clubs bring in money, but we make our real money off of alcohol, cigars, food, and merchandise.  Always look at the extra ways you can turn a buck.

12.  Link with a brand name. In Detroit, our Penthouse Gentlemen’s Club is striking gold and the Philadelphia branch of the Penthouse Club just opened this summer to great fanfare. There are only a handful of Penthouse clubs in the U.S.  The name represents quality, security, and the assumption you’ll be treated well as a patron.

13.  In business, you can afford to be a little bit early in striking a deal, but you can’t be a second too late.  Better to leave something on the table than to lose the whole tamale through greed.

14.  Every problem has a solution – but sometimes the price can be steep.  For me, early on my biggest problem was a local, hell-raising motorcycle gang called The Renegades that thought they could party in an establishment that didn’t want that kind of clientele. After a few visits by the police, the only way to settle the manner was for my dad to volunteer to meet with them and make peace.  I thought he was nuts, but as a Holocaust survivor, who saw ghastly things happen, he won the respect of these bikers and a truce was forged.  They became some of my best customers.

15.  Look to revolutionize your business.  In the 1980’s I pioneered how to run a modern-day gentlemen’s club.  Not only did we change the look and feel of the experience – big space, quantity of quality dancers, top-shelf alcohol and expense-account meals – we changed how we pay the dancers after we changed how they perform.  No longer did we have dancers relegated to a single stage filled with several poles.  We created stages everywhere in the club — on your table, next to your table, and eventually on your lap.  The girls had charged for private dances and they earned that money plus we paid them an hourly wage.  We did away with the hourly wage and charged the girls a small daily fee as private contractors who were given an opportunity to dance at the club. The girls initially revolted and went on strike but they eventually caved in when they saw how much money everyone could make.

See Review here

Come back soon for an interview with Mr. Markovitz.


Book Discussion Group

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

A friend of mine has begun a book discussion group web page at Sister’s through Books. Their first book selection is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. You can purchase the book here and be sure and go join their discussion group.