Posts tagged ‘book reviews’

Book Review: Stolen Boy By Michael Mehas

Stolen Boy is billed as a work of fiction, however it actually explores a real event, and that event is still unfolding in the Southern California court system. Jessie James Hollywood faces the potential of the trip to lethal injection for his actions. So real is Michael Mehas’ book that he actually was subpoenaed twice as a witness in the trial, and forced to hand over his notes and tapes of interviews he had conducted.

With a background of Los Angeles, Stolen boy is about drugs, booze, fast cars, and young people. With that combination you will immediately think gangs. But gangs are not involved, the individuals are mostly from regular middle class, though, highly dysfunctional families.

Mickey Youngblood and Rick LeBlanc are young people that have set out on money making careers in the drug business, both have carved out lucrative existences, but a deal between them that went wrong has soured their relationship. So much so, that a $2000 outstanding debt, creates a verbal war, that in turn becomes a physical war of property damage, and threats towards families.

Mickey is to say the least a hot head, and when the windows of his house are smashed out in a late night raid, all rules of right and wrong exit through the empty frames. Revenge is a strong emotion and Mickey is hell bent on satisfying his hunger for it.

His first idea is to find Rick LeBlanc and have it out with him. $2000 after all is chump change in the drug world. In a sheer coincidence it is not Rick they see walking down the street, but his 15 year old younger brother Bobby. Once again though, Mickey lets his rage rule his brain, and persuades the kids with him to firstly beat the kid up “as a warning,” however second thoughts enter the sick and twisted mind, and instead they kidnap Bobby.

It is not the classic kidnap tale, in fact it is anything but classic. Bobby for the most part is free to leave at any time, but he prefers to ‘party’ with his captors, drugs and booze abound! Even stranger there is no attempt made to conceal the fact that Bobby is a hostage. In what has to have been the worst kept secret in the sieve that is the LA underbelly, the whole scheme starts to unravel as more and more people become involved.

Once again the demon Mickey makes poor choices, faced with the potential of exposure by Bobby he must now make a very hard decision. Does he believe Bobby when he says that there is no harm done, and that he will not talk to anyone about the kidnapping? Or is a different course of action needed?

This is a very powerful book, and one that deserves a spot on the coveted shelf space of your local bookstore. It has also cost author Michael Mehas a great deal to write this book, being so close to the factual case he finds himself in a ‘no win’ situation. The real Mickey faces the possibility of the death penalty. What Michael knows could spare him, or could seal his fate. In many ways, Michael has become Mickey, he holds the key to life or death. This is not a situation I would want to be in.

This is not your typical novel, even though the main characters are mere teenagers, they cover the entire gamut of today’s society, the good, the bad, and the very, very ugly!

Stolen Boy is available through Amazon, and Michael Mehas also has a very informative web site where you can learn more about this story that merges fact with fiction.


Book Review: Marketing Your Small Business For Big Profits By David Mason

I have no idea how many books are crammed onto bookshelves all about the subject of marketing, there must be many millions. It is a subject well understood, how do you make someone buy your Widget as opposed to the other guys Widget? Marketing is the answer, but, marketing comes at a price. How much can you afford?

I have a friend who is a retired BBDO exec, and in his mind, marketing that widget should cost the same as the national debt of a small country. Most small businesses can hardly manage to pay the rent and other expenses, never mind a TV spot on The Superbowl.

David Mason has done a very fine job of encapsulating the important aspects of marketing into a very short read. While I am not sure that he has introduced anything new, he has put it on paper that even the most book ‘resistant’ company owner could manage, at a scant 121 pages this should not scare even the skittish book reader.

Of course there is a downside with using such a short format, in a word ‘lists.’ My wife knows me very well, and she always has stuff for me to do. But she also knows that giving me a long ‘To Do’ list makes my eyes glaze over. If the list has less than than 5 items, the chances are good that I will at least attempt a few of them. David Mason prefers longer lists, I believe one was 16 items long! That I found a little of a turn-off, my wife knows better than to try a list that long on me!

On the plus side, he makes very convincing arguments. Arguments that make sense. It is important that every business has a ‘slogan,’ David Mason calls it the USP (Unique Selling Proposition), but slogan or banner is what we are talking about.

How do you attract customers? You have your slogan, but if it only exists on your computer or in your head, who is going to hear the message? Many people have small companies, some sell niche products, some sell niche services, how do you sell your idea? Newspaper Ads might work, but only for the day, a Magazine might work for a month, radio and TV spots last for seconds! How about the internet?

David Mason explores all of the potentials, all of the advertising mediums have their up’s and down’s, cost, effectiveness, even the number of eyeballs that you get your message in front of are important considerations.

The last part of the book I found really helpful, he has included some samples of headlines and opening lines that the small business owner could use in his advertising campaign, and some simple worksheets to assist in customizing the slogans to your own specific needs.

Marketing You Small Business For Big Profits is small enough to be a quick and easy read, but large enough to contain the vital elements important to run an effective advertising program. The author also takes a very down to earth approach in offering advice on implementing the strategies. ‘You don’t have to do them all, just start with one and see what happens.’ In other words you don’t have to do everything, just do something.