Automotive Holiday Deals Books Gift Guide Books Gift Guide Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Indie for the Holidays egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty Gifts Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer bf15 bf15 bf15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $15 Off All-New Fire Kindle Black Friday Deals Shop Now DOTD
Profile for Phome > Reviews


Phome's Profile

Customer Reviews: 87
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,974,903
Helpful Votes: 1175

Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Phome "phome" RSS Feed (NY, USA)

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
The Son of Nine Sisters
The Son of Nine Sisters
by Karen P. Foster
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.95
20 used & new from $1.43

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect blend of Nordic mysticism and NYC reality, July 6, 2012
The Son of Nine Sisters is the story of Stacy's deadbeat life. Until, that is, she starts having odd dreams of a life as a Norse god. Suddenly infused with dreams and visions full of meaning, power and purpose, Stacy's own life starts to take a turn. She is forced to confront coincidences that weave into her dreams of the Asgard kingdom into her New York City reality.

This book is the first I've read containing Norse mythology and the unique way in which Foster combines urban reality with this other worldly kingdom is expertly handled. Stacy moves seamlessly between her own life and the new world that she's discovering. In the process, we learn about Asgard, its gods and its tremendous stories. Norse mythology is little explored in fiction and generally ignored in schools, but Foster shows the richness of the myths and adds her own imagination to bring that world to life.

I couldn't put this book down once I got a hold of it.

Rubik's 5X5 Cube
Rubik's 5X5 Cube
Price: $20.95
47 used & new from $18.23

135 of 153 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Fragile construction ruins fun, April 9, 2007
This review is from: Rubik's 5X5 Cube (Toy)
I'm an avid Rubik's cube player of the 3x3 model and have owned my cube for nearly two decades. Since I can solve it in under 2 minutes, I decided to invest in the 5x5 for a bigger challenge.

Unlike its robust sister (my 3x3 cube is well lubed with vaseline, and only has one re-glued sticker), the 5x5 proved fragile within the first two days. I used a careful touch, since I'm very familiar with how untried cubes explode. Nevertheless, many stickers started to peel on the first day, and two of the center squares have completely falling off and look to be non-reparable.

I lubed my 5x5 before using it, though it's more difficult because the squares are smaller and turns tighter. I was also careful to turn rows precisely to avoid misalignment and subsequent explosion. Even so, it broke on me. It's a shame, because I was really getting into the challenge of it. Now, it just sits like a broken toy on my desk.

For a $30 or so product, I find this inexcusable. Rubik's is supposed to have a strong brand name and I have been very happy with my 3x3 cube. I'll never invest in another Rubik's product.
Comment Comments (12) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 6, 2010 2:03 PM PST

Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business
Perfect Pitch: The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business
by Jon Steel
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $23.29
97 used & new from $4.09

23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than an anti-powerpoint rant, November 11, 2006
It would be easy to dismiss (or embrace) Jon Steel's book as a tirade against powerpoint. To say that at worst it's nothing more than a tirade against the poor use of a presentation tool (actual clip art died around the same time as the Queen Mother didn't it?) and that at best that it's an intelligent attack on a tool that has changed the way that we think. Both arguments miss the point. Yes turning Winston Churchill's best speech into PowerPoint is the highlight of this book but it's one point amongst many.

What this book seems to me to be about is creating the space, time and atmosphere needed to think. Whether that means taking a sledgehammer to your blackberry or your officemates to a baseball game the message remains the same - you win business when you have better ideas than other people; and you have better ideas than other people when you allow your subconscious to do some of the work.

Yes the book occasionally meandors, but then so do the best brains. Yes it draws on personal experience, yes it works its way through some seemingly unconnected thoughts, returning to connect only some of them - but then isn't that the central argument in the book. It's the curious mind that wins the day.

So whilst this isn't a bullet pointed, Donald Trump-esque WIN. AT. ALL. COSTS. BY. DOING. IT. THE. BILLIONAIRE. WAY. ! ! ! ! kind of book it is a kinder, gentler, more human, more nuanced and ultimately more insightful peek behind the curtain of big business and what it takes to get the people with the big bucks to buy your ideas.

Perfect Pitch may not be the book that thrusting young American execs may think that they need, it won't be on the shelves of any of the 'contenders' on The Apprentice - which is why so many of their ideas will be as predictable as their hairstyles.


Phantom: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 2 (Sword of Truth, Book 10)
Phantom: Chainfire Trilogy, Part 2 (Sword of Truth, Book 10)
by Terry Goodkind
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.89
323 used & new from $0.01

4 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Credit where credit is due, September 28, 2006
OK, so to some extent I agree with the spotlight review by Craig Daniels. I too, am getting a little tired of yet another book of magic that Richard has to find to solve his problems. Still, I think it is necessary to give credit to Phantom because it is actually quite a good book. Here is why:

The main strength of this second volume in the Chainfire trilogy is the writing. By that, I mean the effort Goodkind has made to come full circle with the initial installment Wizard's First Rule. Goodkind weaves in old themes but with a new twist. We find out, for example, why Richard's mother died in a fire - something that seemed an inconsequential but sad fact of Richard's past that turns out to be quite an important clue to how Richard might save the world (we still don't quite know how, of course).

Other themes that are reiterated include the magical cave paintings that trapped Richard in the first book, and do so again here. But luckily, Goodkind does not fall into the trap of repeating Richard's fate. This time, Richard escapes although in a quite unexpected way.

Not everyone is painstakingly beautiful. In fact, Ann is described as quite plain (sorry Craig).

There is substantially less philosophical/theological drivel and much more focus on the story, characterization and relationships. It seems to me that Goodkind has been talking to screen writers, because many of the chapters end in a sort of da-da-DAH cliffhanger fashion (in a "wait till next week to see what happens" TV show manner). This is somewhat annoying, but it's the current trend in writing, so I'll forgive. The entire book, of course, is a cliffhanger, but we knew that since it's the second volume in a trilogy. The point is that more actually happens, and characters actually have conversations that move the plot along - something that was missing in previous volumes.

The plot, in fact, is quite interesting with a few twists. Richard losing his magic altogether for example. I suspect this sets him up so that he can sneak in under the radar with the enemy. Richard's dark, almost prophetic dreams (thanks to Shota) are equally intriguing. I also like the play on the title, phantom, for it doesn't only refer to Kahlan's situation (no spoilers here). Better yet, are what I suspect to be the magical "holes" who can see Kahlan - I hope this gets used to its full potential in the last book. And best of all, the very power penultimate scene (as I said, no spoilers here - you'll have to read it): all the more powerful because it is so simple.

Still, some negative critique is also due. For one, word count is a prime commodity, that was wasted on the sheer number of sub-plots and characters. Apart from Richard and his immediate gang, Zedd, Ann, Nathan, the Mord Sith, Nicci (whom I'm still not quite convinced is on his side) and even Shota the witch, there are the characters around Kahlan (the Dark Sisters and Jagang), the characters around Sara (Violet, Six, Chase), and let's not forget Samuel who has the Sword of Truth (and no-one seems to know what he might be doing with it), and the pixie-twinkly and other magical creatures such as the sliph. Each time, Goodkind has to spend precious pages reminding us who they are, what they do, and where they are, before he can move on with the plot.

Another problem is that Goodkind has taken to adding in magical drivel - sentences full of complete nonsense, with no logical flow whatsoever and loosely based on mathematics and statistics but without the insight, that supposedly lead Richard to come to some conclusion about how a spell works. Even though it's "only" magic, it still has to make sense. If you're gonna get into complex theoretical mathematics, do it right. That's Fantasy's First Rule.

Oh yeah, and the Wizard's Tenth Rule was so lame that I don't even remember it.

A last issue I had with the book is the lack of believability of some of the claims, such as:

- Richard still doesn't know how to use magic (if he didn't he'd be long dead)

- Jagang decided to change his mind about raping Kahlan when he'd already beaten her senseless, ripped her gown off, had his pants down and his privates between her legs (yeah, right, the insane, extremist maniac has the emotional maturity to control his rage, anger, jealousy and need for power and dominance ... it's too logical for Jagang. Maybe Jagang is even more scary than I thought, but I am not sure that was the purpose, or if I believe it).

I have a strong idea of how this story might - it's probably less subtle than Goodkind imagines, but now that he's hanging out with screen writers, perhaps I'll be surprised by more last-minute twists for shock value. It would be a shame if this were the case. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. While I honestly thought that Goodkind had lost the plot with Naked Empire, I'm so very glad to see that his latest trilogy is back to his old strengths - just solid writing with an interesting, original story.

Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner, Vol. 2)
Stalking Darkness (Nightrunner, Vol. 2)
by Lynn Flewelling
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.19
133 used & new from $0.01

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love in a time of darkness, July 31, 2006
I had to review this book because I can't get it out of my head (and I'd quite like to get on with some work). I read the entire Nightrunner series, twice. In a week. There was so much joy in reading it, that I felt the need to repeat the experience. It was just as good the second time round, if not better, because I took more time to gush over particular passages and characters. I'm hooked for good, I reckon.

It may seem strange that I chose to review the second book in the series. I do so because this installment resonated with me more deeply than the other two (I just barely restrained myself from reading it a third time). The first book is really mostly an introduction to Seregil and Alec, the world of Skala, streets of Rhiminee, characters of wizardry, thievery, royal lines, gods, etc. Though strong in its own right, it delves a little too deeply in historical and religious set-ups. The third book, on the other hand, develops the world of Aurenfaie and makes for a complex read of clans and interrelations, each with lengthy names and extensive personal networks that requires quite a bit of concentration.

In contrast, this second book focuses mainly on the relationship between Seregil and Alec, and how their friendship grows into a much deeper love in the face of tremendous odds. This book focuses on growth. Alec becomes a confident spy. Seregil a marvelous teacher. While Alec comes of age, learning the ins and outs of intrigues among high society, he gains a mature understanding of love (in the 21st century, thank you Ms. Flewelling!), Seregil also grows, by learning that everything in life has its price. Needless to say, it's the awkward growth of the keen, pristine love between Alec and Seregil that is most preciously exquisite.

Stalking Darkness is a book of balance and contrast. Love against evil. Fantasy that lives in a very real reality. Nobility versus thievery and sewage workers. The sweet friendship that grows between all characters in the beginning of the book is genuine and realistic. It is a beautiful counterpoint to the dark ending.

Rarely have I come across a book so alive. This book has it all: love, evil, torture, sacrifice, trickery, humor, friendship, misunderstanding and realization. Within an apparent simplicity of writing, Ms. Flewelling demonstrates a huge talent for drawing us into a real world of characters we genuinely care about.

The Briar King (The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1)
The Briar King (The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone, Book 1)
by J. Gregory Keyes
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.99
143 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult to get into but picks up speed, June 13, 2006
The Briar King is a difficult book to get into, in the beginning. This is probably because of the several pre-prologues that have apparently very little to do with the main story. In addition, the chapters are quite short, and they have a tendency to build up to a high point, cutting it off and leaving it for several more chapters before picking up the story again. In essence, I don't have a problem with this as it creates tension and intrigue. However, for some reason, it was hard for me to drop the story at a high point, and begin all over again to get to know a new set of characters and their various problems. But only during the first quarter of the book or so. Once I had a sense of all the different groups/parties of characters, it became much easier to follow the story and look forward to new chapters that began at a high point.

In all, Keyes has created an interesting set of characters, who grow and develop, and the changes seem realistic. The king's holter who spends his time roaming the wild woods and being distant falls in love. The studious priest learns to trust his senses instead of his maps. The spoiled princess is rudely awakened by reality. All good.

Yet, as a previous reviewer has mentioned, something is missing. Perhaps it is that the world building is somewhat overdone. Stephen (the studious priest) spends his entire time prattling about the five or six different translations of words and phrases into several languages. While creating an alternative reality that has depth is good, this seemed a bit superflous. In all honesty, the languages are too transparent lacking true manipuation of grammer/structure that I have come to expect from top fantasy writers. Why not focus on one foreign language and work harder on it?

Another aspect I found somewhat random, was the source of evil. It is never really explained. Yet, we have murder, treason, black magic (of sorts). Some of these come as a complete surprise to the reader, such as the murder/treason for example. Maybe this was purposely done, but it the result was somewhat random. As if it was only decided at the last minute which of the characters would suddenly be evil. A bit of foreshadowing might have added depth to the story (rather than all that linguistics).

Finally, I could not make head nor tails of the map at the front of the book. If you're gonna put it in, make it worthwhile to the reader.

OK, so those are my three complaints. Other than that, the story very much appealed to me. It's certainly a series that I will stick with (as long as it doesn't head in the perilous direction of Robert Jordan's series). Can't wait for the new book!

Prep: A Novel
Prep: A Novel
by Curtis Sittenfeld
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.60
656 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good first half, missing something in the second half, June 13, 2006
This review is from: Prep: A Novel (Paperback)
"Prep" is the story of Lee Fiora who joins a private boarding school in her freshman year of high school. From the moment we meet her, she comes across as an overly shy, awkward teen paralyzed by her fear (and maybe awe?) of being surrounded by a bunch of priviledged rich kids. Lee herself is from a Mid West middle class family, a great source of embarrassment and stress throughout her high school years.

Because Lee's life has been so different from all the other kids - who go skiing every winter and all have backyard pools, and their fathers are bankers, lawyers, politicians or own entire conglomerates - she is unable to behave functionally around them. She does the only thing she can, which is to continuously second-guess every minute aspect of her behavior to the point where she shuts down completely. In short, she becomes a dysfunctional, paranoid, teenager that is unable to make any real friends, or, heaven forbid, have a boyfriend.

But boarding schools are small, and in spite of all her best efforts to be ignored, she does form some, albeit mostly unstable, relationships. At the end of her freshman year Martha becomes an actual friend and they decide to room together for the rest of their high school years.

We come to know Lee as overly self-deprecating and hyper-analytical of everyone's behavior. If someone so much as smiles at her across the dining hall, she tries to interpret a meaning: were they being friendly or sarcastic? Should she smile back, or is that too needy? Lee paralyzes all her emotions, never acting honestly on any of them until it is far too late. All around her, her classmates slowly grow to a semblance of maturity, readying for top notch colleges, while she herself remains socially inept.

Even Lee seems somewhat surprised at her own behavior, which is so different from how she was "back home": top of her class, outspoken with friends and family. But it was her desire and choice to trade all that to rub shoulders with the elite. Sadly, she never manages to fit in completely.

What Lee fails to realize is that in her attempt to "fit in" and not appear "abnormal", she forgets to be real, engaged and interesting. That is also the biggest problem of the book: Lee never becomes interesting. Her lack of self-esteem becomes boring, even irritating. Yet, there are things that happen to her that are obviously at odds with her behavior - she actually has an intimate relationship with the most popular boy in her class, Cross. This seems odd. Lee falls head over heals in love with him, but is utterly unable to express this (or indeed anything at all) to him. He appears to care somewhat, acts like it sometimes, but drops her like a dirty rag at the end - no surprise there, given Lee's behavior.

I found the first half of the book fascinating, engaging. I was hoping, waiting, praying for Lee to develop. I was expecting a story of personal growth, a coming-of-age. Instead, Lee fails to do this, and even as an older Lee looking back at her teenage self, there is still something very pathetic about her tone. The ending is somewhat surprising also (I won't spoil it for you here).

"Prep" was very jarring to me. I attended a private boarding school full of priviledged kids. Some things I could relate to: nothing is ever a secret. But at the same time, you live in such close proximity to so many people, it would be virtually impossible to hide yourself in the way Lee did. Having a friend such as Martha would in itself have been enough to make the experience a happy one for her.

The other aspect that rang untrue is that Lee claims she was an A-student in her old school, but performs below par in boarding school. I cannot imagine why someone who's essentially smart, would suddenly drop so many IQ points. The boarding school, after all, still follows a standard curriculum (with smaller classes and better teachers, maybe, but the material is the same).

Overall, an enjoyable book. I had a hard time putting it down. But I was at times enormously frustrated with Lee, wanting to shout at her to get some sense in her head. Maybe that was the point ...

Daughter of Ancients: Book Four of the Bridge of D'Arnath
Daughter of Ancients: Book Four of the Bridge of D'Arnath
by Carol Berg
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: $7.55
78 used & new from $0.01

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful and New, April 5, 2006
It saddens me that there are only nine customer reviews on this marvelous book! The Bridge of D'Arnath series that Berg has written are marvelous, and full of intelligent creation of several worlds that are all connected. Each volume in the series stands alone, the story never a mere regurgitation of the same plot. Rather, each book has a distinct story line, introduces new characters and places. As such, this fourth installment, Daughter of the Ancients, is no exception.

The story begins with Karon facing a slow but brutal death from an internal disease. I had to put this book aside for several months in fact, because when I first began to read it, my own father had just died of a terrible colon cancer. The first chapter simply resonated too closely with my own life: Karon's pain, his weakening, all that I had just lived through.

Seri, concerned over her husband's illness, realises that there is probably little she can do but wait for Karon to die. She requests her son Gerick to visit while it is still possible.

By chance, visitors also arrive from Gondai. They desperately seek advice from Karon about a woman who has slept for a thousand years under the influence of the evil Lords. The woman, D'Sanya, claims to be a descendant of a ruling family. Before putting her on a throne, however, the people of Gondai want to eliminate some of the concerns they have about her. No-one can put a finger on exactly what the problem is, except that something seems not quite right.

D'Sanya has a healing institute, where at the price of sacrificing their magical powers, people can suspend their illnesses. It is decided that Karon should go to one of her clinics, while his son Gerick tries to figure out D'Sanya.

Of course, things get complicated very quickly. Gerick falls madly in love with D'Sanya. Karon begins to lose his able mind and is of very little use even though he is no longer sick. Seri is unable to go outside at all because as a mundane, people would instantly recognize her in what is a world full of magic.

As Gerick pursues his mission, the past catches up with him. He WAS, after all, one of the Dark Lords himself. Known then as Destroyer, the Lords molded him from childhood in their evil and vile ways. He is recognized by a few former slaves. And more importantly, struggles to put the past successfully behind him: Gerick lives his life in constant fear that the temptation of power will overwhelm his free will.

The story escalates nicely towards the end, when Gerick is the only one to feel that something is very wrong with Gondai's magic. It is up to him, and those very, very few that dare to trust him, to save the world.

Berg covers the story from several perspectives: Gerick mostly, but also Seri, and a new character, Jen. The points of view bring out different shadings of Gondai and the issues. A delight to read, and a real joy of a story.

by Fumio Hayashi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $104.12
73 used & new from $38.75

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid basis for econometric analysis, April 2, 2006
This review is from: Econometrics (Hardcover)
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Perhaps I should state as a precursor that I was never formally trained in economics before learning econometrics. And, that the last time I'd done matrix algebra or calculus was some 15 years prior.

We used this book as part of a taught graduate course. It took half a semester to go through the first two chapters - an investment of time that proved well worth it for the rest of the topics which were covered in the remainder of the semester.

Basically, if you can understand the first two chapters on ordinary least square regression for finite and large samples, the required assumptions and properties, then the rest of the chapters are a piece of cake:

- generalized method of moments for single and multiple equations

- panel data

- time series analysis (including unit root analysis)

- extremum estimators

- maximum likelihood

- cointegration.

In short, the book covers all major econometrics topics and does so in a succinct, clear manner. The way in which Hayashi builds on each topic, showing that all models are basically different versions of the same method, with slightly different assumptions is just brilliant. It put statistics in a different light for me, and gave me a much deeper, intuitive understanding of it than any other book or class had done before.

There is a caveat however. This book assumes that you have substantial mathematical grounding. In particular, I found the succinct use of notation, without any verbal explanation, irritating at first. I invested quite some time in a mathematical economics book reminding myself what sets were, rules of matrices, calculus functions, expectations and probability.

Without the support and input of our brilliant teacher who (very patiently) took us through the end of chapter exercises step-by-step, I would never have managed to successfully read this book on my own! While those exercises honed my skills and deepened my understanding, I relied heavily on Hayashi's home page notes and hints to complete them.

For those of you that have strong mathematical skills and an economic background, this book is probably one of the best introductions to econometrics. For those of you who do not, it will prove to be a difficult read at best.

What's certain is that after succesfully completing it, your econometrics and statistical skills will provide a solid enough basis for any graduate program.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 9, 2014 4:42 AM PST

Samsung HT-P1200 5.1 Channel Home Theater System (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Samsung HT-P1200 5.1 Channel Home Theater System (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surrounded by sound for ultimate 1980s revisit, January 19, 2006
My husband got cancer so we got a home theater system. What else would you do if you expect to spend a great portion of the next six months at home on the sofa? Mind you, the New York winter in itself provides a pretty good excuse to stay in.

Now, I've never been one for gimmicks, preferring to dive into a good book anytime, but I must admit that this thing is fabulous. With my husband clearly unable to handle anything remotely heavy, I had to do most of the setting up. It took us about 40 minutes in total, and only because I'm nitpicky - those screws better be tight. Linking all the bits together was a piece of cake. We placed the speakers in their relevant positions and, wham, we had serious sound.

I've been told that this isn't the top of the range, but as far as my ears can tell, it's great. The subwoofer makes your floor tremble (and the dog sit up), and the speakers are elegant enough not be intrusive in the room (even when the room is not that big). It makes DVD watching a fantastic experience - better, almost, than being in the cinema. So, of course, we got totally hooked on DVD series. I never thought I would get into LOST, but how can you not when the gentle crash of waves on the beach rumbles in the background while Sawyer has his little hissy fit.

Many of our DVDs are from other regions (the result of moving way too often), but it was very easy to decode the system to allow it to play other DVDs (isn't the Internet wonderful?). Now, we can play all our DVDs, and music CDs, and even plug in our iPod to play music through this system. You beauty. The only thing it has refused to play so far is video CDs.

In short, if you plan to re-visit the 1980s by watching McGuyver, V, 21 Jumpstreet and a host of other DVDs ... you can't do much better than this in terms of value for money.

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9