Saturday, March 29, 2008

Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop by Emma Larkin

Secret Histories: Finding George Orwell in a Burmese Teashop
Emma Larkin
2004, John Murray, London

This book is about Burmese history and culture, past and present. It is loosely based around the places George Orwell lived when he was a policeman in Burma, which are visited by the author.

I liked how the author let the Burmese people tell their own stories. Some of the subjects written about are tough, and it's nice not to be dictated the information from some omnipresent narrator. The devise of following George Orwell was very clever, and the writing style is lyrical. I enjoyed this book even though I have had no experience of the topic before.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Midnight for Charlie Bone by Jenny Nimmo

Midnight for Charlie Bone
Jenny Nimmo
2002, Egmont, London

Charlie Bone discovers he can hear people talking in photographs. This special gift means that he is sent to a school for 'endowed' children - children who are descendants of the 'Red King', an ancient magician. There he has to fight to reunite a young girl with her family.

I enjoyed this book - it has a wonderful premise. The characters are well-rounded, although they jump to conclusions too quickly, and the overall pace of the book is a bit fast. Still, that means that there's a lot of neat characters and magical plotlines crammed in.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Six Sacred Stones by Matthew Reilly

The Six Sacred Stones
Matthew Reilly
2007, Macmillan, London.

Another typical Matthew Reilly action book. This is the sequel to Seven Ancient Wonders. A group of heroes from around the world are led by Jack West Jr. on a mission to save no less than Earth itself from the Dark Sun.

As always it's not the best written prose in the world - how many times can the man use the word 'easily' anyway? He used it easily a hundred times. But this was a great high-action adventure. I loved the diagrams and pictures, and loved how so much action and so many military devices were crammed into one book. On the surface the research is great, but I wouldn't want to delve to deeply into checking everything out.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Fat Land: How Americans became the fattest people in the world by Greg Critser

Fat Land: How Americans Became the Fattest People in the World
Greg Critser
2003, Mariner, New York

This was a great in-depth look as some of the causes for the American obesity epidemic. It gave a history of nutritional thought and dieting, and a history of the progression of Physical Education in American schools.

It was well written and very well researched. With enough background information to make some solid suggestions for the future. I agree that fat 'acceptance' is a huge issue which needs addressing. An annoying thing with writing style was the over-use of pretentious big words! Like 'promulgate' and 'fulminating'.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Making Contact: A Serious Handbook For Locating And Communicating With Extraterrestrials edited by Bill Fawcett

Making Contact: A Serious Handbook for Locating and Communicating with Extraterrestrials
Bill Fawcett
1997, Avon Books, New York

A great guide filled with very useful information about what to do in case of an alien encounter. For example, carry 18 coins around in your pocket so you can demonstrate your knowledge of the solar system, and wear heavy-duty boots, but not steel-caps because the radiation will cause them to heat. The book also includes some alien visitation/UFO sighting stories which were extremely interesting. And it gives a variety of theories about UFOs and aliens, and the possibility to extraterrestrial life. I especially liked the part about Tectonic Stress and Electro-Magnetism.

There are a lot of contributors to this book - some of the authors are very dry, others write quite well, with a bit of humour thrown in for good measure. It's a little tongue-in-cheek in places, as you'd expect.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Brother's Keeper by Michael Jan Friedman

My Brother's Keeper
Michael Jan Friedman
1999, Pocket Books, New York

Just after having to kill his friend Gary Mitchell on Delta Vega, Kirk returns to Earth for the funeral service. He reminisces about an incident from the past where Mitchell, Kirk and Spock fought a Klingon threat.

This wasn't written all that well, but the plot was interesting. I enjoyed reading about some of the pre-history of The Original Series TV show, from before Mitchell was killed on the planet. One thing that annoyed me about the writing was that the author kept saying "his friend Mitchell" or "his friend, the navigator" ... I mean, we get it, Mitchell and Kirk were friends!

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