Friday, November 1, 2019

Businesses have always had to deal with competition, whether their customers are buying services, products, or even ideas.  In these days of social media, it can be even more difficult to gain attention in a crowded marketplace.  Add to that the fact that it is very easy (and potentially devastating) for disgruntled customers to share their bad experiences with the world.  Given all these factors, how can businesses hope to stand out, gain lifelong customers and head off a viral online disaster?  The book Purple Goldfish 2.0  by Stan Phelps and Evan Carroll shows 10 ways to attract raving customers and provides dozens of examples of businesses that "get it" and go the extra mile.

One question that probably occurs to everyone right off the bat: what's with the purple goldfish title?  The authors explain that the goldfish part of the title represents the humble little fish:  while most of the specimens that people are familiar with are roughly the size of your thumb, when unfettered by constraints such as a limited environment (small bowl) and competition for food (many other fish fighting for the limited resources), goldfish can grow to be much larger.  While many factors are outside the control of most businesses (they are unlikely to be able to influence the state of the national or world economy, for instance), the factors that can be controlled can help to set a company apart from the many competitors.  The purple part of the title is a nod to New Orleans and the Mardi Gras colors (purple, gold, and green).  New Orleans embodies the spirit of lagniappe, giving something extra at the time of purchase.  So the Purple Goldfish concept is: giving your customers something extra and unexpected which will help your company to stand out among the competition while also creating a sense of delight and loyalty in (hopefully repeat) customers.

The book is divided into three sections: the why, the what, and the how.  The middle section, the what, is the largest and also my favorite part of the book.  It shows many examples of companies that are providing Purple Goldfish moments for their customers.  These examples are sometimes well-known (Zappos.com's free shipping both ways and 365-day return policy), while others are a little more unusual (Kimpton Hotels used to offer lonesome guests the opportunity to check out a goldfish companion during their stay).  Many of the examples were collected when Stan Phelps asked for 1001 examples on his blog.  The stories are divided into two categories: value (including sampling, throw-ins, and guarantees) and maintenance (showcasing such features as a convenience, handling mistakes, and follow-up).  While some of the options were definitely aimed at the "high roller" crowd (complimentary spa services and an indoor driving range at the Lexus dealership), many of the examples cited show that every company can go the extra mile to stand out by committing to customer service and finding a niche way to stand out.  The final section of the book goes over the I.D.E.A. Process whereby companies can Inquire, Design, Evaluate, and Advance their own Purple Goldfish.

Minor quibbles: The text had some formatting issues.  When an example was provided, the text would be introduced and the example indented.  After the example, there would be some discussion of the concept, but this "non-quote" would remain indented.  It was therefore sometimes difficult to tell where the quote stopped and the commentary began. Also, there were many URLs provided as footnotes, and nearly all of them were in a teeny, tiny font size. Sometimes there were multiple footnotes at the bottom of the page, and therefore it might have been necessary for the type to be small, but most of the time there was plenty of room to make the font at least legible.

Overall, the book was a very interesting and inspiring look at how some companies "get" customer service and the concept that it is more profitable to keep the existing customers happy than to spend the effort to attract new ones. 

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Purple Goldfish 2.0 from the author in exchange for this review


Thursday, October 24, 2019

If you're anything like me, no trip abroad is complete without some shopping.  If (also like me) you're unable to travel abroad as often as you'd like, there is a new shopping destination designed to bring all the best shops from Britain to direct to your door.  UKdirect.net allows users to browse and shop more than 120 UK online stores.  They also provide links to all sales (up to 70% off!) and nearly all have free or affordable shipping to US customers.

Using the Explore Current Deals button, you will be connected to the latest sales across all stores.  You can browse by deals such as Free Shipping, Discount Codes and Coupons, and Store Specific Sales.  Just now, some of the featured deals include 25% off at the Royal Albert shop (for all your tea drinking needs!), up to 60% off at Kath Kidston, and free worldwide delivery at M&Co.  You can also check out the blog for the most up-to-date news about deals and sales.

Being able to shop and find good deals from the UK will reduce the sting of not being able to browse the shops in person!  With Christmas coming up soon, this site will help you get the most out of your shopping budget.





Even though people tend to get murdered at a much higher rate than the national average, the villages in Midsomer county really get into the Christmas spirit in the charming Holiday Pop-Up episode A Christmas Haunting (originally shown in 2013).

DCI John Barnaby is having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit.  His long-time partner Ben Jones has moved to Brighton to take up a position as a Detective Inspector.  This leaves Barnaby feeling somewhat adrift and not very enthusiastic about meeting Jones's replacement, DS Charlie Nelson.  Nelson has no time to settle in before he is called out to his first (although surely not his last!) murder.

Ghosts never take a day off in the village of Morton Shallows, given its status as the Most Haunted Village in all of England 2003 (I wonder what the ghostly inhabitants of the Tower of London have to say about that?).  Most of the paranormal activity in the area is centered around the legend of Rose Wilton.  The story goes that 127 years ago, the young girl Rose brought a holiday offering to the local manor house, but was tossed out into the cold.  Seeking refuge in a nearby cave, she froze to death.  Her spirit is said to haunt the manor house, the local pub (which was her father's blacksmith shop during her lifetime) and the cave where she died.  All three locations are hosting ghost hunting activities in the hopes of recording some proof of spirit activities.

The manor house is currently owned by Simon Fergus-Johnson, who recently inherited it after the death of his father.  He lives there with his alcoholic, unimpressed wife Tabby and somewhat neglected daughter Pippa.  Pippa and her boyfriend Dev are university students who are attempting to record the ghostly activities as part of Dev's Ph.D. coursework.  On the first Fright Night attempt to record the ghost, one of the villagers is stabbed to death in the manor house, by a sword made by the tragic Rose's blacksmith father.

In investigating the death, Barnaby and Nelson encounter the usual not-very-well-kept village secrets:  affairs, money problems, alcoholism, betrayals, etc.  How to sort out which of these motives was enough to kill for?  As the villagers of Morton Shallows are desperate for tourists, they don't let an unsolved murder stand in their way of trying to drum up publicity for the town.  They go on with further scheduled ghost hunts at the local pub and caves, with predictably unpleasant results.

Sarah Barnaby, John's wife, is getting into the Christmas spirit and decorating the house (and Sykes the dog) while expecting the couple's first child.  She is also taking a keen interest in DS Nelson and is perplexed that Barnaby is unable to answer the most basic questions on his new partner's background, appearance and housing situation!

It is always a joy to visit the villages of Midsomer and see what the Barnabys are up to.  This pop-up edition DVD contains only the one episode, but it does provide a cheerful 3D image of Barnaby and a festive Sykes.  An additional feature is an interview with Gwilym Lee, who plays newly arrived DS Nelson.  This is one of three holiday pop-up collectibles from Acorn which were released on October 15.  The other two are feature Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and The Brokenwood Mysteries.  They are designed to be displayed together for an attractive holiday scene that any Anglophile would be proud of!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Midsomer Murders: Holiday Pop-Up Collectible from Acorn in exchange for this review

Friday, October 11, 2019

Augusten Burroughs reveals rather soon in the book that he is a witch, descended from a long line of witches.  As anyone who read his previous books will know, his mother (from whom he inherited this trait) was not exactly the most stable or reliable person in his life.  Therefore, it has mostly been up to him to develop this aspect of his life. 

The book mostly relates the journey he and his husband Christopher undertake as they attempt to move from a cramped apartment in New York City to a larger house out in the countryside.  Throughout this experience, there are many "premonitions" that come true . . . but others that don't.  There are times when Augusten is driven to do something odd (such as buy a bag and see if certain valuables will all fit into it) that later prove to have meaning after all.  He also performs various spells and incantations to get things moving the way he wants, but how the process of how he comes up with these particular chants isn't really revealed.

The times when things work or his premonitions come true -- well, that's proof that he's a witch.  When that doesn't happen -- well, that's because he was never taught the knowledge that should have been passed down from his mother.

While I wasn't completely convinced of the author's ability to cast spells and see the future, I did enjoy his engaging style of writing and the amusing events that happen as the city dwellers move to the sticks.

Disclaimer:  I received an advance readers' edition of Toil & Trouble from the publisher in exchange for this review

Thursday, October 10, 2019

The #MeToo movement has exposed many instances of sexual abuse by those in power.  My Dark Vanessa, scheduled for release in January, takes a look at the issue when a student is abused by a teacher.

Vanessa Wye is a bright 15-year-old girl who manages to get a scholarship to attend an exclusive private boarding school, Browick.  Vanessa feels inferior to the other students due to not coming from a wealthy family.  She also suffers from insecurities about not being smart enough to compete with the other students at the school.  When the book begins, she is starting her sophomore year at Browick, and has a single room after a falling out with her roommate and former best friend, Jenny.

So Vanessa is nervous, isolated, socially and academically adrift.  Her literature teacher, Jacob Strane, seems to take an interest in her, especially when she joins the creative writing club, which he sponsors.  The book takes an interesting look at how the middle-aged Strane grooms Vanessa into an inappropriate relationship.  She is at first confused and fearful by his attentions, but soon he convinces her that she is special and has all the power in their relationship.

The book alternates between events of Vanessa's school years, in the early 2000s, and the Vanessa of today, who is working at a low-paying job and seems to still lack any direction.  Certainly, the current Vanessa seems to be suffering from PTSD and is still conflicted and confused about what happened to her at school.  She experiences a range of emotions and the characteristics she exhibited as a student (even before being abused by the teacher) are still in evidence: lack of motivation, slovenliness, etc.  The current Vanessa is still in touch with Strane, although he is reluctant for their relationship to be revealed, even though she is now an adult.

The story was interesting in that it showed the terrible effects that can result when abuse occurs in a situation like this.  The young girl wants to feel special and noticed, but the attentions of the teacher and mentor quickly turn into something much darker.  The only problem that I had was that the book really seemed to drag in the more modern parts of the book when Vanessa is just floundering around, not really doing much of anything.  Otherwise, I enjoyed reading about how a predator can manipulate a victim into a relationship.

Disclaimer:  I received an advanced reader's copy of My Dark Vanessa from the publisher in exchange for this review

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Jenny and Cecilia are two respectable, married women with nearly grown children who are looking forward to secure retirements in a few years.  When circumstances threaten their orderly plans, they decide to do something radical in the delightful Swedish series The Simple Heist, now available from Acorn TV.

Jenny has new found money worries.  A high school math teacher is never highly paid, but she and her husband Gunnar are comfortably off.  Then she has an affair with a younger chemistry teacher at her school (not a physics teacher, as everyone seems to think) and Gunnar files for divorce.  Even this upheaval doesn't worry Jenny too much -- until she discovers there's a long-forgotten prenuptial agreement that effectively cuts her out of the family assets.  With no home and a limited income, her future prospects are also looking bleak.

Cecilia works as a gastroenterologist and shouldn't have to worry about finances.  Her husband, Jan, has left all the (boring) money issues for Cecilia to sort out.  Meanwhile, he has been searching for their dream retirement house in Provence.  Now that he's found it, he's anxious to put in a bid so that they can
make their dreams a reality.   The only problem is that Cecilia has invested their life savings into some risky stocks, which have recently crashed. Since she never bothered to mention this investment to Jan, he has no idea that they have no money at all to fund their retirement, let alone buy a French hideaway.

At this time, one of Cecilia's patients is told that his cancer treatments are no longer working and he has very little time left.  He's very disappointed because he's worked out the perfect crime.  Since he won't be around to carry it out, he asks if Cecilia would like to take it over instead?  She becomes intrigued and learns that her patient has worked out an "easy" bank to rob.  He knows that their security hasn't been updated, and unlike many banks in Sweden, it still gets regular deliveries of large sums of cash.  He even has blueprints for the layout of the inside of the bank.  At first, Cecilia and Jenny laugh off the suggestion, but as they contemplate their various financial problems, it begins to seem like a more attractive proposition.

While they work out their plans for the robbery, there are many issues to consider.  Cecilia thinks they need a gun to look like authentic robbers, but Jenny isn't so sure.  They must arrange disguises and the getaway car.  The bank is also in Stockholm, which is not where they live, so they must also come up with excuses to miss work.

In the meantime, they also have personal problems that keep intruding.  Jenny's daughter Harriett has boyfriend problems and keep showing up unexpectedly.  The chemistry teacher who caused Jenny's divorce is also interested in continuing their relationship, but Jenny has more pressing matters to attend to.  Cecilia feels overlooked and under appreciated at her job.  Her application to be chief of staff was laughed off and her supervisor is tracking her arrivals and departures from work to the minute.

While worry about their immediate financial problems is the main catalyst for the robbery, the women are also upset at being viewed as no longer important by society.  They feel invisible as older women and therefore think (as does the dying patient who told them about the robbery) that they are the perfect people to pull off the heist since they are the least likely suspects.

As someone who watches a lot of programs from Sweden, I was excited to recognize Jenny (Lotta Tejle) from "Thirty Degrees in February" and the Swedish pop star Lena Philipsson as the somewhat testy hospital supervisor. I enjoyed seeing all the planning that went into pulling off the robbery and all of the suspense as they put their plan into action.  The cover of the DVD says, "Series 1" so I wonder what sort of "master criminals" Cecilia and Jenny will turn out to be in future adventures!

Disclaimer: I received a copy of The Simple Heist from Acorn Media in exchange for this review

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Once again, I got sucked in by a glowing review.  I can't remember where I read it, but I had the impression that Everything I Know About Love was "the new Bridget Jones" and hilarious to boot.  Well, as they say, live and learn . . .

Since I was connecting this book with Bridget Jones, I was expecting a fictional account of a young woman's life in London.  However, I soon got the impression that this really is a young woman's diary with some other lists and short chapters intermingled with the rest (apparently other material had to be added to fill out the book).  I had to scratch my head about how this book got published.  It's as if any generic twenty-something's diary was suddenly available at your favorite reading retailer.  As I read on, I was puzzled as to how anyone could think the general public would be interested in this girl's life (centering around her circle of friends).  She goes to parties, drinks, does drugs casually, has one-night stands and occasionally longer relationships, struggles briefly with an eating disorder (after a break-up; as soon as she finds a new boyfriend, she overcomes it with seemingly little fuss), comments on her friends' relationships, etc.  It's all very vapid and goes into way too much detail about people you don't know.  I can imagine that her friends are thrilled to see their names in print . . . the rest of us, not so much.

Final Verdict for Everything I Know About Love One Gherkin, for being too narrow in scope to appeal to many readers

Monday, May 28, 2018

If only they could concentrate on "detecting" (looking for lost treasures with metal detectors) and not have to deal with real-world problems, life would be wonderful for Lance and Andy.  Unfortunately, in series 3 of Detectorists, available starting May 29 from Acorn, personal and job issues keep intruding on what should be prime detecting time.  Even more bad news reaches the Danebury Metal Detecting Club (DMDC) in the form of a notification that Lance and Andy's field, where they have secured exclusive permission to detect, is soon to be covered over with solar panels and therefore off limits.

The six-episode series begins with Andy and Becky living with Becky's mom along with their young son Stan.  Andy has finally gotten a job in his chosen field of archeology, looking for potentially historically important artifacts during the building of a new office block.  Bachelor Lance also suddenly has company, as his long-lost daughter Kate has moved in.  While Lance is thrilled to have finally re-established contact with Kate, her slovenly habits and noisy friends have caused problems in Lance's previously well-ordered world.  Not to mention that it's become nearly impossible for Lance to spend time with his girlfriend Toni.  He obviously can't have her staying over at his place, and Toni lives on a houseboat, which, while charming, is a no-go zone for seasick-prone Lance.

Episode two sees Andy find something of historic value at his job, although his boss doesn't seem to share his enthusiasm.  Lance tries hypnotherapy at Toni's urging to try to get over his fear of water.  "Simon and Garfunkle," two rival detectors from the newly named Terra Firma club (for some reason they discarded their previous moniker of the Land Sharks), hear about the solar panel plans for the previously off-limits field and decide to see if they can't get access to it before it becomes an energy farm. In Episode Three, Andy re-thinks his career options and Lance's former wife Maggie shows up and asks to move in temporarily.  They also discover it's not just rival detectorists like Simon and Garfunkle they have to worry about in terms of stealing their finds.


Lance decides to camp out in the field in order to avoid meeting Maggie at his flat, and Andy takes up a new career in Episode Four.  When both Lance and Kate are out of the flat, Maggie has a good old nose around through papers and drawers, but what exactly is she hoping to find?  In Episode Five, it has not gone unnoticed by Simon and Garfunkle that Lance and Andy seem to be going over and over one section of the field.  Suspicious, they resort to some high-tech spying methods to try to discover what's going on.  In the meantime, more bad news arrives when Lance and Andy are told that their favorite tree is going to have to be cut down because it obstructs the sun.


In the final episode, there is finally a bit of good news.  The rival detectorists decide to open up the field on the last day before construction begins on the solar panel farm and work together to see if they can find a suspected Roman burial site.  Thank goodness even Shelia pitches in with some of her world-famous lemonade . . .

There are some interesting extras after the final episode on the DVD including interviews with Mackenzie Crook and Sophie Thompson.  One bonus feature also deals with real-life mother and daughter Diana Rigg and Rachel Stirling who also play mother and daughter in the series.  The final bonus highlights the village of Framlingham, where most of the series is filmed, as well as allowing many of the actors to discuss their experiences in filming the series.

Although this is rumored to be the "final season" of this delightful series, in the bonus feature creator Mackenzie Crook didn't rule out the possibility of another season if everything lines up in the future.  I really hope there will be more episodes because there are certainly many questions that could remain to be answered:  Will Lance ever make it onto Toni's boat?  Will Shelia's lemonade ever be drinkable?  Will the Finds Table ever have any exciting finds?  I'll be anxiously awaiting the answers to these and more questions and crossing my fingers for another series!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Detectorists, Season 3 from Acorn in exchange for this review

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Detective Aiden Waits has seen better days.  When Sirens opens, he's been placed on suspension by the police force for trying to switch out drugs in the police evidence room.  As a disgraced cop, his superiors figure he would be the ideal person to go undercover in an attempt to find the missing daughter of an MP. 

Waits is fairly quickly able to trace the girl, Isabelle Rossiter, to the thriving drug den of kingpin Zain Carver.  It turns out that Zain employs attractive young women to pick up drug money for him.  Isabelle seems to be the latest addition to this group.  Poor Isabelle doesn't look like she's enjoying herself, though.  Why would she leave a seemingly comfortable upper-class home for the rough world of the drug trade?

While mingling in this dangerous world, Waits meets another female drug courier, Catherine.  He begins a relationship with her, but when a rival drug gang wants to take over Zain Carter's territory, Catherine becomes a pawn in their game.  As Aiden moves around in this shadowy underworld, he begins to suspect that some of the drug dealers he's interacting with might have something to do with the disappearance of a woman 10 years previously.  Aiden has to try to keep the two sides of his life separate while ensuring that neither he nor the people he's grown to care for wind up injured or dead. 

I found the story a little difficult to follow at times.  Aiden would be "called on the carpet" by either his police superior or a drug lord, and while speaking to them, he'd think, "I nearly told him everything," and I'd wonder, "About what???" The motives of everyone keep you guessing and you can never really trust what anyone says or does.  There is a second book out featuring Aiden Waits, so it will be interesting to follow up and see if he's been able to get his life back on the straight and narrow (although somehow I doubt it).

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of Sirens from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review.


Thursday, March 15, 2018

Dr. Kellyann Petrucci is a well-known weight-loss specialist who has helped many people (especially celebrities) lose weight quickly.  Her secrets are explained in The 10-Day Belly Slimdown.  The diet consists of four phases throughout the day.  The main factor in the diet is bone broth.  There are instructions for making your own bone broth (which can take up to 8 hours) or, helpfully, Dr. Kellyann sells broth on-the-go packets on her website.  As well as a structured daily plan, the book includes a section on approved foods that you can have during the 10 days.

Many recipes are included in the book.  Each recipe includes detailed preparation instructions and notes about how the various ingredients are helpful in the diet.  Unfortunately, as with most recipe books, it's unlikely that many of the ingredients will be found in your kitchen already.  In three recipes I found by opening the book at random, each one asked for at least one ingredient I found a little strange, including monk fruit sweetener, Celtic salt, fish sauce, Korean red pepper flakes and daikon (? I have no idea and I'd be willing to bet my local grocery store doesn't carry it).  For inspiration, the book also has many Success Stories showing before and after photos of people who were able to lose weight and inches in 10 days.

In short, someone who is willing to commit to the plan and buy all the ingredients will likely be successful.  I just wish the ingredients in the recipes were a bit more pantry-friendly.

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of The 10-Day Belly Slimdown from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review 

Monday, March 12, 2018

Pack your career suitcase
Selecting a career path is one of the most important decisions that someone can make.  After all, you will be spending most of your day, over many years, doing the job that you choose.  Unfortunately, many people do not take the time to assess their own values, interests and personalities before embarking on a path which may not bring them fulfillment.  Young people, especially, who are nearing the end of their school years sometimes jump into a certain vocation simply because they like a subject at school, or because a family member or teacher steers them toward a career.  By stepping back and answering some questions, people will be able to identify jobs that will bring them happiness and success on their own terms.

The book, “The Shortcut to Purpose: A No-Fluff Guide to Choosing the Right Career” guides the reader through several aspects of career guidance that might not otherwise be addressed.  While some chapters are aimed at students who are still in school and trying to decide what they want to study, many of the suggestions and questions can be used by anyone who is looking to find out what they were meant to do with their lives – even if they’ve been on the wrong path for a while!

The overriding message of the book is that everyone must choose a profession based on his or her own interests and values.  Just because your parents or teachers might have an idea of what you would excel at, that doesn’t mean that you would find that job fulfilling.  Spending your days in a job that doesn’t challenge or excite you is a sure way to make you feel depressed or anxious, even if it appears to everyone else that you are “successful.”  One of the early suggestions in the book is to sit down and define what success means to you, personally, at this moment.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be a financial success, but just success on your own terms based on what you are striving for at this moment.

Additionally, chapters in the book offer questions that you can answer to get a better idea of the type of career you that might best suit you.  For instance, there is a chapter with questions to lead your thoughts in terms of work environment – not just the physical environment (indoors vs. outdoors, stable workplace vs. frequent travel) but also the level of responsibility you are comfortable with.  There are also chapters with questions to help you identify and define your core values.  Since you might have difficulty putting your core values into words, there is an exercise where a list of values is given, and you can pick the ones that most resonate with you.  After grouping and ranking the values, the reader will be better able to see what values guide his or her life.  Once you know what you value, you will be able to make guided decisions and plans.

Just because you’ve identified your values and career path, you can still be your own worst enemy if you allow fear and/or failure to dominate your life.  Self-doubt, procrastination and fear of failure are all reasons that we sometimes fail to take advantage of opportunities that come our way.  By identifying our negative beliefs that might be holding us back (whether from negative messages we received as a child or from previous failures), we can recognize temporary setbacks as just that – temporary and not a reflection on who we are as people or our abilities.

Finally, it’s important to recognize your purpose and live your life so that you leave a legacy.  Your legacy doesn’t have to be worldwide, but making a positive difference in the lives of people you encounter.  If you live your life guided by your values, you will be passionate about your work and impact on others.  This will lead to fulfilling, energizing work that will empower you to have a positive impact on those around you.  While it’s important to identify what you want to do, it’s just as important to single out the work, places, and people you don’t want in your life.


The book ends with a recommendation to try the publisher’s free career matching service.  This might be a starting step for someone who is attempting to find the career to match their passion!

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It sounds like a dream:  moving to Paris and living in your very own apartment in a trendy neighborhood.  Unfortunately, for David Lebovitz, this dream quickly turned into a nightmare in the book l'appart.  The book chronicles the ups and downs of his purchase and renovation of an apartment in Paris.

David Lebovitz is a cookbook author, so nearly every chapter ends with a delicious-sounding recipe.  Because of his work, his requirements for his new home mainly involved the kitchen, where he needed space and equipment to try out recipes.  He had been living in a cramped Paris apartment for several years when he decided to take the plunge and purchase his own flat.  Once he decided to buy a place, however, he encountered his first problem.  Each real estate agent has his or her own listings, and they don't share this information with each other.  So he had to try and figure out exactly which apartments were for sale and how to contact the sellers.  Once he had found an appealing prospect, even though it was on the market, the seller apparently was in no hurry to finalize the sale.  This, of course, created problems when he attempted to give notice on his current apartment.

All of this paled in comparison to when he began renovations on the space.  The wiring, plumbing, drywall and nearly everything else in the apartment needed to be replaced.  A friend recommended a contractor who was reassuringly calm and didn't seem fazed at all by the amount of work that would be required.  David's French partner, Romain, tried to counsel him on how to deal with French tradesmen, but David, as an American used to dealing with things that run more or less smoothly, thought he was overreacting.  He therefore paid a lot of money for the work upfront, only to be dismayed when no workers showed up for days or weeks at a time. 

Not only was the repair work difficult to get done, but things which should have been simple, such as ordering appliances or parts also turned out to be mammoth tasks.  No matter how many mistakes the electrician and contractor made, everything was blamed on David.  Because he paid so much up front, he was not anxious to start over with a new contractor.  Luckily, after the work was completed (not to his satisfaction, but to a finally-move-in-ready-standard), he had some architect friends look over the work, and they discovered not only shoddy, but also potentially hazardous situations. 

The book is quite interesting to read and discover the cultural differences in our French cousins.  It is amusing to read about the many strange and unfathomable things that just accepted by the French with a shrug.  Since the author is a food writer, he brings in a lot of discussion about different types of foods that he has discovered since moving to France.  The book has plenty of humorous situations that anyone doing a home renovation project can probably sympathize with.  I hope to try out some of the recipes in the future -- especially the Frangipane Plum-Raspberry Gratins!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of l'appart from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review

About Me

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I'm a librarian who is interested in all things British. I try to visit London as often as possible, and am always planning my next trip. I lived in Sweden for a few years with my Swedish husband, so the occasional Swedish reference may occur . . .

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