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Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success
by Kerry Patterson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.56
147 used & new from $0.80

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You. Will. Get. This. Book., May 20, 2011
First off, the title. It jumped right at me when I visited the bookstore. The title is a very strong promise, so much that I surfed the Web the moment I got home to see what I could find out about the book. After reading through the sample pages and the official website, I figured the book was something worth trying.

I'm glad I bought it. The premise and system to help people break old, destructive habits and build new helpful ones is clearly laid out. The book does not tell you what to specifically do, because it acknowledges that each person is unique--what works for one may not work for another.

It tells you, instead, the six things you need to think about so that you can determine the "change strategy" that will work for you. Whether you want to quit smoking, improve your job performance, or get fit, you just need to think of those six things to jumpstart your change.

The six things are:

1. Love What You Hate: Coming to terms with pleasure and pain
2. Do What You Can't: Involves building the necessary skills that can spur change
3 and 4. Turn Accomplices Into Friends: Involves getting other people into the act
5. Invert the Economy: Manipulating the benefits
6. Control Your Space: Using the environment to help the change process

This book is a good investment.


Elmer
Elmer
by Gerry Alanguilan
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.77
38 used & new from $1.33

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never look at chickens the same way again..., November 24, 2010
This review is from: Elmer (Paperback)
I remember reading an article wherein Michael Chabon said it was possible to create a genre story that possessed the beauty of a literary piece.

When it comes to graphic novels, Elmer is one of those possibilities. It's a well-conceived piece of speculative fiction that's also a family drama, as well as social commentary. In an alternate universe, chickens develop rational thought and the ability to talk. The story begins at a time when chickens and humans have reached a state of co-existence, though not everything is settled. This premise alone presents numerous storytelling options, but Alanguilan opts for the more resonant one--a story about family and friendship. Then there are a few odd but strangely believable situations thrown in. [Humans marrying chickens? Really?]

Plus, it's actually entertaining, unlike other serious graphic novels that leave zero breathing room. Alanguilan manages to pack it all in using less than 150 pages, without being self-indulgent or preachy. The pacing is smooth and the artwork, gorgeous. Having worked in professional comics [most of the major titles of Marvel and DC] for over a decade, Alanguilan knows his stuff.

I dare say that the academe should look at this Filipino gem. Elmer deserves a place in the Graphic Novels 101 syllabus. It has already won the French Prix Asie-ACBD Award for best Asian graphic novel, and has been nominated for an Eisner Award. It's that good.

UPDATE: Another award for Elmer, the Quai des Bulles - Ouest France, was given last October 2011. It bested a field of ten finalists.

[If you're curious, you can make a Google search for the online preview.]


Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate
Invisible Ink: A Practical Guide to Building Stories that Resonate
by Brian McDonald
Edition: Paperback
Price: $15.88
44 used & new from $11.60

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars :-|, November 18, 2010
I read the Amazon reviews and was encouraged. I visited his blog and was delighted by its contents. I read the free preview and was sold.

Then I got the book through special order, because I didn't know if our local bookstore would be stocking it. Paid a hefty for it.

Yes, I was aware that it was slightly thin: Amazon listed it at 170 pages. But did the book have to be thin on content, too? There's too much unused space, which could have been perfect for additional exercises or guide questions.

No doubt about the quality of the content. And, for sure, quality does matter. I loved what I read, but I couldn't get over the feeling that The Invisible Ink is ...well... less of a "practical guide."

It's a book of tips. Great tips. But just tips.

Or, insights.

To echo what another reviewer said, The Invisible Ink feels like a compilation of blog entries. To place information in a book meant to be sold means there has to be a bit more.

Again, the contents are great, though not a whole lot. For many, this book would be a great addition to the collection. But for those who don't have a lot to spend, best to borrow first and take notes.

If you're looking for fresh insights or nuggets of inspiration that can help give your story more depth, MacDonald delivers. Still, compared with the other books I have, I didn't get enough bang for my buck with The Invisible Ink.


The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time
The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time
by Pilar Alessandra
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.60
49 used & new from $12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, do yourself a favor!, November 18, 2010
This is "the one book to rule them all."

Well, maybe not, if you're interested in going through academic reading on the subject.

The Coffee Break Screenwriter is one of those books many wished existed. "I'm a busy person," you say, "but I want to write. I can't make much of a time investment." You wish there was a system out there that you could use to write your script, one that covers as much ground as possible but is still time-friendly.

Luckily for us, Pilar Alessandra creates the no-excuse book for screenwriters. Everyone's got 10 minutes, so she creates 10-minute brain-jogging exercises that will take you from the big idea, all the way down to the structural details, and then some. Without spoonfeeding you with story ideas, she will tell you with each exercise what to focus on. The result is, hopefully, a story structure that's comprehensive enough to effectively guide you through the final writing and revision stages.

The system allows a lot of opportunity to try out different ideas and different directions when you make story decisions. Some of the exercises will eventually take more than 10 minutes, but Alessandra encourages you to think fast and use your gut.

Previously, I had high praises for Will Dunne's "The Dramatic Writer's Companion," and I still do. So among all the scriptwriting books I have, I think the Alessandra-Dunne tandem is the team to beat when it comes to developing story. Use Alessandra's book to start, then use Dunne's book for intensive troubleshooting work.


Animal
Animal
Price: $7.00
107 used & new from $0.33

35 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some Good...Some Really Bad, January 22, 2010
This review is from: Animal (Audio CD)
Let's go straight to the track list, shall we? (Oh, by the way... I mention "vocoder" a number of times in this review, but it could also mean "auto-tune." My ears aren't still used to the difference between the two.)

Your Love Is My Drug - Nice, but it's something that Katy Perry would sing.

Tik Tok - I love this one.

Take It Off - Oh, please, don't start a song with heavy vocoder!! And there's that unimpressive hook.

Kiss N Tell - Filler alert!!!

Stephen - Techno bubble gum. I don't mind bubble gum, but this song would've been more interesting if they upped the Latin flavor a bit more, or at least used more "normal" instruments.

Blah Blah Blah - Heavy vocoder alert!!! Sounds like a filler. I don't know why they released it as a single.

Hungover - This would make a great third single, because it's slower than most of the other songs, and I love the hook. (It reminds me of Katy Perry's "Lost," but it's still nice.)

Party at a Rich Dude's House - It's got an 80s thing about it, which is interesting, so it gets "second single" status for me. That is... if you don't mind the inanity of the lyrics.

Backstabber - A bit of big band and 80s flair here... a bit. It's otherwise mind-numbing.

Blind - Not a "party" song, but an angry "you'll miss me" song. It's got single potential, a good fifth in my book.

Dinosaur - Yes, the song starts with the roar of a ... dinosaur! Here, she berates a senior citizen who's hitting on her. Let's bury this one.

Dancing With Tears In My Eyes - Again, it starts with heavy vocoder. *sigh* Nothing impressive here. A waste of song title, really.

Boots and Boys - I hope this song is not representative of her target audience. It's plain stew-pid.

Animal - The title track. Intro (and just the intro, mind you) sounds like "Linger" by The Cranberries. The song actually sounds good, surprisingly, with decent lyrics. A fourth single, then.

V.I.P. - A funky-cool little thing, if only they did something about some of the lyrics. Could've been really good, but not as a single.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Overall... I'd give "Animal" a 2.5. But since I'm a nice guy, a 3 it is. It's not a borderline disaster. Though there are a number of really bad songs here, there are some nice ones worth repeat listening. But choose wisely.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 16, 2010 3:29 AM PDT


The Real Truth about Success:  What the Top 1% Do Differently, Why They Won't Tell You, and How You Can Do It Anyway!
The Real Truth about Success: What the Top 1% Do Differently, Why They Won't Tell You, and How You Can Do It Anyway!
by Garrison Wynn
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.80
70 used & new from $1.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a Big Whip!!, January 22, 2010
If there's any book about success that you should read first, it's this book.

It puts "attaining success" under a different light, and potentially whips every other success book out there. I even dare say that this book should be the Introduction to every bit of success knowledge out there. Its message is so deceptively simple--making the most of your personal advantage--but it somehow hits differently than the usual "unique selling proposition" or "personal brand."

It convinces you that you have a secret weapon. It encourages you to find it and use it. It pushes you to fight. But all in a good way.

Garrison Wynn knows what his secret weapon is, and this book is proof of it. I'm sold.

Brilliant!


The Ten Roads to Riches: The Ways the Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too!)
The Ten Roads to Riches: The Ways the Wealthy Got There (And How You Can Too!)
by Ken Fisher
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.11
181 used & new from $0.03

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Boo hoo hoo ... BOO HOO HOO, December 20, 2009
I waited and waited for this book to finally get to paperback because I couldn't afford the hardcover.

I bought it and held it close. I eagerly tore off the plastic and got to reading.

Boo hoo hoo hoo...

My mistake was assuming that Fisher's book was a comprehensive guide. But save for a page of tips at the end of every chapter, "Ten Roads to Riches" reads like a bunch of free articles, or a compilation of free articles, from those inspirational personal finance get-rich blogs and websites.

I'm giving this two stars (instead of one) because the author took the time to actually make a compilation, and added humor to the whole deal to make the work a little less frustrating to read.

But I'm still frustrated.

Borrow it first.


Midwinter Graces [CD/DVD Combo]
Midwinter Graces [CD/DVD Combo]
Price: $13.99
36 used & new from $6.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Whodathunk Tori could create a classic?, December 8, 2009
Ten years from now, when pop Christmas albums have come and gone, Tori Amos' "Midwinter Graces" has a strong potential of becoming a great holiday classic--oh if only the public would give it a chance!

Pop Christmas albums sell more of the artist and less of the songs. As the artist's star fades, expect that album to be played less and less.

Surprisingly, "Midwinter Graces" isn't just Amos' most accessible album, it is also the most timeless.

As the first few bars of each song play, you'd think you were hearing original compositions. And for the most part they are. However, Amos beautifully injects lines and tunes from classic Christmas songs. Not just reinterpretation, but reinvigoration.

In standard Tori fashion, a number of the songs are bittersweet in tone, but she also has a good number of heartwarming ditties. "Star of Wonder," "What Child, Nowell," "Harps of Gold" and "Jeanette, Isabella" are personal faves.

"A Silent Night with You" could easily be part of a movie soundtrack. "Snow Angel" is a playful tease. "Pink and Glitter" is fun. "Holly, Ivy & Rose" sounds like a magical medieval ritual.

Again... if only the general public would give this a chance!
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 13, 2009 2:03 PM PST


The Fame Monster
The Fame Monster
Price: $5.00
180 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Dare Ask... Is Lady Gaga the true heiress of Madonna?, December 1, 2009
This review is from: The Fame Monster (Audio CD)
When it comes to pop-dance female artists, so many have come and gone since the mid-eighties, but none have been able to match the ingenuity of Madonna, who brought pop-dance music to a whole new level. It wasn't just the music--it was the whole experience. Madonna's artistic choices were fueled by sheer gall, but her powers seemed to fade after Ray of Light.

Now I'm happy again, because Lady Gaga has succeeded in bringing back that whole theatrical experience to pop-dance. Her videos for "Paparazzi" and "Bad Romance" as well as her VMA performance proves her creative audacity. The songs of "The Fame" were great, but the new tracks here in "Fame Monster" blew me away. She takes familiar sounds from the 80s and early 90s and "Gaga-fies" them into fresh catchy tunes.

"Alejandro" sounds like a mash-up of "La Isla Bonita" and an Ace of Base hit. The chorus of "Dance in the Dark" has the atmosphere of Maria Vidal's "Body Rock." "Monster" has a new wave funk thing going. "Speechless" is the only slow song here, but it's got enough wit to hold its own ground. Almost every song has a piece of ear candy that made me smile and nod my head.

My favorites of this 8-track collection are "Bad Romance," "So Happy I Could Die," and "Dance in the Dark." The weakest track in my opinion is "Telephone" which features Beyonce.

Overall, a monstrously laudable piece of work. I wish there were more songs.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 8, 2009 4:01 PM PST


The Dramatic Writer's Companion: Tools to Develop Characters, Cause Scenes, and Build Stories (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
The Dramatic Writer's Companion: Tools to Develop Characters, Cause Scenes, and Build Stories (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
by Will Dunne
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.30
41 used & new from $9.49

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearly, the book to beat!, September 24, 2009
The product description here on Amazon, plus the preview I saw in Google Books, convinced me that Will Dunne's book could be worth something in the sea of oh-so-many fiction writing books. Boy, was I wrong. "The Dramatic Writer's Companion" is not just worth something--it's simply the most comprehensive set of brainstorming exercises any storyteller needs to thoroughly flesh out a story.

It doesn't teach you writing per se. What it does is encourage you to explore the potential of your idea. Do you have a concept but hard-pressed to create a story for it? "The Dramatic Writer's Companion" can help.

Every step of the story development process is covered, whether you just have a core idea, or if you already have a glitch-laden draft that needs ironing out. Through questions and straightforward commentary, author Will Dunne encourages you to THINK and DIG DEEP. If you're serious about coming up with a well-rounded dramatic story, then this is the book to beat. Avoid this book if you're looking for shortcuts.

In other words, this book wants to make sure that you know your story like the proverbial back of your hand--inside and out, up and down, side to... you get the picture.

The book starts with a character, with the objective of making this character as three-dimensional as possible, as well as exploring the aspects of this character that could inspire dramatic action. The book then brings in the other characters and helps you establish the kind of character relationships that fuel a dramatic story.

Moving forward, the book then provides exercises for scene building, defining what a scene is and what it's supposed to do, and how characters influence scenes. There are exercises to help establish the tone of a scene, heighten conflict and tension, and connect scenes with the overall story objective. Threshing out dialogue is also covered.

As you go further, the book goes for the big picture. Point of view, dramatic arcs, inciting event, setups and payoffs... they're all here.

And then some. It doesn't matter if you're writing plays, or screenplays, or fiction, or graphic novels. Long overdue, "The Dramatic Writer's Companion" is a must for every serious storyteller's bookshelf.


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