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John Murphy

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The Visitor: (Jack Reacher 4)
The Visitor: (Jack Reacher 4)
Price: 2.00

4.0 out of 5 stars reacher settling down - not just yet, 30 Dec 2013
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Another clever story premise that provides a suitable twist at the end. I did find that it lacked some of the real Reacher rawness as the plot sees him temporarily tied to a 'place of his own'.


The Fashion Police (Amber Fox Mystery No 1)
The Fashion Police (Amber Fox Mystery No 1)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slapstick humour...gutsy heroine, 26 Mar 2012
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Having read some fairly intense plots recently I fancied something in a lighter vain. Being a little wary of the chicklit genre I was a little hesitant but decided to give the Fashion Police a try. And, I'm very glad I did. This was a great read from start to finish.

A somewhat accident prone heroine brought some great moments of humour to what was a fairly typical murder mystery. Rather than using a lot of high-tech wizardry we are treated to a somewhat accident prone stumble from one scenario to another. Mix in some personal baggage on the man front and a recipe for unbridled chaos is the result.

The humour was believable (well maybe a tranvestitesque neighbourhood watch father was stretching things a little)and shows that self deprecation is still a great way to create sympathy with the reader.

With two mafia stooges adding to the mayhem the author took every opportunity to play up the slapstick element.

If you're looking for some great escapist writing to put a smile on your face then this is thoroughly recommended.


Intimate Strangers
Intimate Strangers

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tame ending but worth a read, 26 Mar 2012
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Okay, so the premise is a little tenuous. Why would a highly secretive individual with mega security issues allow someone to roll up unannounced without a rather robust welcome before they got inside the gate? No matter, if you accept some unlikely scenarios then this is a pretty good read. I was worried that having just two characters the dialogue and plot would get rather laboured. Thankfully, I was wrong. The pace is good and the relationship between the characters is spicy to say the least.

The biggest disappointment is the ending where the whole plot shudders to a mediocre conclusion. The fact that both individuals had their own reasons to part should have followed through to the end, instead we get a girl gets boy ending that lacks credibility. Don't let this put you off though, the unbridled passion is well written and keeps interest alive.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 5, 2012 4:49 PM BST


Growth Management: Two Hats are Better than One
Growth Management: Two Hats are Better than One
by Andrew Lester
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 30.00

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A well thought out approach to a real business need, 17 Nov 2009
The importance of establishing sustainable business growth is the major focus of this book. The author sets out to demonstrate that whilst day to day operational efficiency is a cornerstone to any organisation there is also a need to look to the future to ensure that growth opportunities are managed properly.

To achieve this he contends that an organisation, or more specifically the people in it, need to understand how managing operational efficiency requires a different style to managing growth, hence the reference to a two hats approach. He describes in some detail the differences that each approach needs so that the reader can validate their own organisations current fit to this approach.

The book begins by setting out why growth management is important given the current economic climate and how changing attitudes will create an even greater focus on this in the future. Importantly, he says right at the start that whilst identifying growth opportunities is a key requirement for any business perhaps more importantly it is that they are sustainable. How many times have you been asked to work on new initiatives only to find that they eventually fall out of favour and nothing seems to change, Andrew Lester is highlighting this type of situation as a major reason for poor growth management.

As the theme develops it is clear that everyone in the business should allocate some of their time to working on Growth Management. The time spent for an individual would be influenced by their involvement in operational activities but the key thing is that there is some need for everyone to be involved.

To ensure that this is done correctly readers are provided with a template to help identify what people spend their time on currently. The idea is that everyone who is involved should keep a record of the work they do over an agreed period. Once this is done the results are analysed to see whether sufficient time is being spent on the right things.

Other templates throughout the book provide further support in establishing successful Growth Management and do help in understanding what is being recommended.

It won't take the reader long to determine that new growth ideas are best managed using project management principles although the author does shy away from talking about project management directly. As you learn more detail on the specific ways that growth should be managed it is clear that project management is the only efficient way to achieve the desired outcome. Having said that there are wider issues to consider and there is a definite need for creativity especially in the early stages.

The section on integrating successful initiatives into ongoing operations is very often an area that doesn't receive the attention to detail that it deserves. No matter how good a growth opportunity appears to be unless it can be integrated effectively there is a risk that not only will the new business suffer but existing operations could be negatively impacted. There are some key recommendations in this section that provide useful pointers for success.

Throughout the book examples are given relating to the topic in discussion. In general they helped to illustrate a point but it may have been of greater benefit to use a case study throughout so that the recommendations made could show how they would be used in practice.

For anyone who is involved directly in seeking new business for their organisation this book will be a useful reference as it sets out what to do, who should be involved and provides very useful templates to aid in executing.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2009 12:55 PM GMT


Practical Schedule Risk Analysis
Practical Schedule Risk Analysis
by David Hulett
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 65.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good insights into an important project management technique, 17 Nov 2009
As I have worked for a project risk management consultancy I was keen to see how David Hulett would cover this important project management topic.

Traditional project scheduling has, in the majority of cases, failed to deliver realistic and achievable outcomes. The primary reason for this is that uncertainty is not considered to the level of detail that is needed. Whilst this shortcoming has been recognised for several decades there has always been a reluctance to apply more rigorous analysis to create more attainable schedules.

Hulett's book goes a long way to providing the detailed rigour needed to overcome these shortcomings. Encouragingly the book not only describes the practical steps for undertaking a schedule risk analysis but also delves deeper into the wider areas of management attitude about introducing such techniques.

As Hulett describes, one of the greatest obstacles to overcome when applying schedule risk analysis is to demonstrate the value that it brings whilst countering the assertion that it is an expensive overhead both in terms of time and cost. The rationale for implementation is powerfully argued and provides sound business reasons for using such techniques.

The starting point for a reliable schedule risk analysis is a project schedule that reflects true logic and durations. As Hulett comments even this is rarely available, hence work is needed on the schedule before a risk analysis can be started. I would like to have seen some guidance on a suitable size of schedule for analysis. In my experience schedules that contain about 200 activities makes a good basis for analysis. Working schedules that contain thousands of tasks are not viable.

One of the great strengths in the book is the way in which Hulett directly connects identified project risks and their potential to impact the schedule. He refers to these as risk drivers and provides clear examples of how they can be used.

Schedule risk analysis includes several advanced techniques such as probabilistic and conditional branching that can help decision makers on a project and these are well described in the book.

One thing for me that is missing is a comparison of the various project scheduling software packages available. The author refers to several throughout the text but doesn't provide the reader with a clear comparison of each. I believe this would have been a useful appendix.

Aside from the practical knowledge provided for executing a schedule risk analysis the book contains valuable debate on how project teams should be involved in establishing levels of uncertainty for project schedules. This is a key success factor in any analysis and is often sacrificed as time constraints or lack of knowledge hinder an analysis.

Projects are never executed in isolation and it would have been useful for the connection to the original business case to have been referenced as the outcomes of the analysis do influence potential returns.

This book is useful for both managers and project teams as it covers the rationale and considerations for implementing schedule risk analysis and the techniques to apply.


The Shape of Snakes
The Shape of Snakes
by Minette Walters
Edition: Paperback

1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hisssssinnnnnggggglllyy readable, 17 Sep 2001
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This review is from: The Shape of Snakes (Paperback)
First time that I have read Minette Walters so I don't have any preconceived notions as to what to expect. As it turns out I was highly impressed. The 'heroine' of the tale turns out to be a steely character who has more than a fair share of dogged determination. Mix this with some cunning trickery involving those close to her and those not so close and you end up with a tale of deceit, treachery and a perceptive eye on the foibles of ordinary men and women. I particularly liked the way in which 'facts' were stripped bare and shown to have more than one interpretation or more information was provided which put meat-on-the-bones to show what really happened.
Not having many sympathisers our dogged herione's path to success is strewn with emotional, moral and physical dangers. There aren't many characters that you end up having sympathy with but it does demonstrate that even the most upright citizens can be less than perfect when the situation is fraught with danger.
Also nice to see that the ultimate 'criminal' was not easy to spot.


Sushi for Beginners
Sushi for Beginners
by Marian Keyes
Edition: Paperback

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Neat little parcels - a mouthful at a time, 11 Sep 2001
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This review is from: Sushi for Beginners (Paperback)
Overall impression was that Marian Keyes has written an enjoyable and lighthearted account of love, power and despair. The theme is a fairly well worn path of different personality types coming together and seeing how the mix reacts. I realised fairly early on who would end up with who but even so it did not detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. Can't say I laughed out loud at all but the humour was there, although for me rather understated. It would be nice if once in a while not everything ended up with happy smiling faces all round, I mean it doesn't always in real life does it? The argument might then be put forward that the humour would be out of place if the ending wasn't all hearts and flowers but I don't believe that. Black comedy can be a way of finding humour where unhappiness appears to reign. For some strange reason, not sure myself why, I thought that the last part of the book was the most satisfying. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that the characters were starting to make sense not just to themselves but to others as well.


Down Under
Down Under
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: 6.29

6 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Down Under?...NO Down and OUT!, 3 Sep 2001
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This review is from: Down Under (Mass Market Paperback)
I was looking forward to reading this book as it was my first taste of Bryson. Oh what a disappointment. To me the main thing that makes a country are its people. Bryson seems to have ignored this almost completely and come up with a partly interesting history book with not much else to commend it. The journey's made were uninspiring and hardly tough on the endurance front, I'm sure if I wrote about a train journey across a vast continent no-one would be interested and quite rightly so. Bryson seems to get away with it with loud critical acclaim to boot. The fact that his journey was made on seemingly lavish expenses detracted from what should have been a gritty account of a harsh yet beautiful environment. I don't think the reader met one character who portrayed any form of interest and yet Australia must be bursting at the seams with them. Ranchers, bushmen, roadtrain drivers the list appears endless, but obviously not to Bryson. Don't think I'll be rushing to read anything else by this particular author in a hurry.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 26, 2012 11:20 PM BST


Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria
Extra Virgin: Amongst the Olive Groves of Liguria
by Annie Hawes
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The alternative to living in a Ford Cortina, 14 Aug 2001
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How do you convince two seemingly rational English girls to buy, what is essentially a delapidated mud hut halfway up a mountain? Apparently with little problem if you throw in a few olive trees and a view to die for. Little inconveniences such as an earth toilet and having to carry your water from a well some distance away did not discourage our would be Ligurians. There is a lot of positive things in this book, the local inhabitants are skilfully sketched and you soon know the goodies and the baddies (and there's always at least one baddy!). It says a lot for the girls sheer determination that they buckled down and made their Italian hideaway into a personal paradise. It would have been useful to have some form of time reference as the story unfolded, there did seem to be some jumping about but it never really detracted from the overall enjoyment. Might sound a strange thing to say but this book had an awful lot of words in it. A sense of not wasting anything, including space, being a carry over perhaps from the way in which life was lived in this close knit community. Well worth a read but allow plenty of time.


Matt Beaumont e: A Novel
Matt Beaumont e: A Novel
by Matt Beaumont
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.39

4.0 out of 5 stars To: tottywatch@millershanks.com, 2 Aug 2001
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Blood and gore with words! Office politics laid bare to all who care to read. Whilst the setting of the book is an advertising agency I'm fairly sure you could just replace the names and business with more personal ones and feel you've seen it all before. E-mail as a business tool is about as effective as dropping plane loads of water on a raging forest fire! It does however allow people to vent their spleens about their so-called friends and colleagues with outright glee. This particular tale is rife with intrigue and counter intrigue and provides moments of great humour intertwined with sexual tension and smutty bits together with a less than flattering barb at our Finnish friends (Aqua fans be warned!) The book is worth reading but don't expect any great literary revelations to stir your fevered brow.


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