Monday, 16 July 2018

"Being A Scot" by Sir Sean Connery & Murray Grigor

Publisher:London [England] : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008.
ISBN: 9780297855408
Characteristics: 311 pages :,illustrations (chiefly color), portraits (some color) ;,27 cm

This was an extremely interesting book to read, that takes the reader on a journey through the life of Sir Sean Connery, from his beginning in Edinburgh where he delivered milk door-to-door to world wide fame as a celebrity.

With 93 films to his credit,  most people would recognize him as the original James Bond, but his acting credits are far more wide ranging than that.

But this book is much more than an autobiography "Being A Scot" is a portrait of what Scotland is really like, and looks at some of the famous achievements (and failures) that have graced it's history. In addition, Sir Sean Connery looks into the history of the country and examines why the Scottish people are the way they are. The history lesson itself was extremely interesting, and well written.

I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Scottish history.

Monday, 9 July 2018

"Red Sparrow" by Jason Matthews

Publisher:New York : Scribner, [2013]
Edition:First Scribner hardcover edition.
Copyright Date:©2013
ISBN: 9781501171574
General fiction M PBK
Characteristics: 434 pages ;,24 cm

This was without a doubt one of the better espionage novels I have read for quite some time. The  author is an retired CIA member, and this added a lot to the story as he was able to infuse the plot with lots of details that general author would not be able to do, even if they did a lot of research. This book is the first in a trilogy, and the next two books will be reviewed relatively soon.

The story is set in contemporary Russia, and revolves around a young ballet dancer (Dominika Egorova) who is in line for a position in the Bolshoi Ballet until an accident sidelines her career. She elects to become a intelligence operator, and is then sent to what is known as Sparrow school to become trained in the art of seduction. Upon graduation she is assigned to a CIA agent (Nathaniel Nash) who handles the biggest informer inside Russian intelligence.

President Putin even appears briefly in the novel in a couple of places, and I couldn't help but wonder if he's read the book, and if so what he thought about it. Not that I'm ever likely to find out.

This story is well crafted, very difficult to put down. I recommend it to anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of espionage novels and especially to fans of John le Carré.

Hollywood has recently released a movie adaption of this novel, and I am interested in seeing how they have handled the storyline, but at the same time quite apprehensive as they have a reputation for generally making a mess of things when they try to do this. Here's hoping the script writer, director, etc. actually read the book, and not just a back cover blurb.

Monday, 2 July 2018

"Making It Big in the Movies" by Richard "Jaws" Kiel (1939-2014)

Publisher:Reynolds & Hearn, Ltd. London
Copyright Date:©2002
ISBN: 9781903111901
Characteristics: 240 pages : illustrations, facsimiles, portraits ; 24 cm

This was a very unique look at a very unique actor. Richard Kiel played numerous parts in many movies that required a large person, but didn't reach worldwide fame until the James Bond movies "The Spy Who Loved Me", and "Moonraker". He is the only Bond villain to do a second movie (other repeating characters such as Blofeld were played by different actors).

Mr. Kiel definitely had a interesting life, he was a successful businessman, and was without a doubt a loving and supportive father. His life in Hollywood was unconventional, and at times rather sad as he was typecast into various roles due to his size; mistaken for other actors such as Andre the Giant (Princess Bride), Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the Addams Family), and others.

This books was written in a very easy to read style, and you learn a lot about the inner working of Hollywood, and the motion picture industry. Mr. Kiel also gives out a lot of good advice on how to survive life, in a not-so-fair world. All in all a very good auto-biography.

Monday, 25 June 2018

"21 Things You May Not Know About The Indian Act" by Bob Joseph

Publisher:Port Coquitlam, BC : Indigenous Relations Press, [2018]
Copyright Date:©2018
ISBN: 9780995266520
Characteristics: 189 pages.

This book is without a doubt one of the best books I've read with regard to Native Canadian affairs in many years. The way that the Native population of Canada was treated by the European colonists/invaders was deplorable, and unfortunately it's something that is still present and isn't likely to change in the near future unless major policy changes are made in the government (both federal and provincial).

When I did my Bachelor of Education degree a number of years ago  I chose Native Studies, as my minor (you weren't allowed to major in it) and even though I was immersed to a great extent in native history, and the effects of colonization, etc. The 21 things outlined in this book were for the most part new to me.

Being that my speciality in Education was Social Studies, I would have been one of the people that would have ben responsible for teaching this material. I firmly believe that if I had chosen to teach, and if this book had been available that it would have been one of my primary resources for formulating lessons and units around Native Studies.

In order to hopefully rectify this I have sent emails to the University of Alberta Faculty of Education as well as to my ex-professors in Native Studies recommending this book to them if they haven't already read it.

I sincerely hope that the author will continue with this topic and uncover more things we don't know, as I'm sure there are lots of them.

Monday, 18 June 2018

"Adulting: How to Become A Grown-up in 468 Each(ish) Lessons" by Kelly Williams Brown

Publisher:New York : Grand Central Pub., 2013.
ISBN: 9781455516902
Characteristics: viii, 273 pages :,illustrations

I was extremely impressed by the wisdom of the advice given in this book. While it is intended primarily to be read by young women and girls, the vast majority of it is applicable to young men and boys as well. Come to think of it I know quite a few older women and men that could benefit from this advice as well.

The 468 steps Ms. Brown lists are all well thought out and very pertinent to today's society. I'm over twice Ms. Browns age, and I wish someone had written a book like this for when I was starting out as I made some blunders, and I'm sure I would have handled things much differently if I'd had access to what should be considered basic information.

In Alberta's high school curriculum a course known as Career And Life Management (CALM) is taught. This book would make a great resource for any teacher preparing lesson plans for this course. Of course minor changes would need to be made, as it is an American book and certain things that are applicable south of the 49th Parallel are different than up here, but they are minor changes.

The book takes you o a journey through such topics such as cooking, getting a job, dealing with money, getting along with people, love, families, and much more. This is definitely a book I'll be recommending to quite a few people.


Monday, 11 June 2018

"Think Like A Freak" by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Think Like A Freak

Publisher: Toronto : HarperCollins, [2014]
Edition: First Canadian edition --.
Copyright Date: ©2014
ISBN: 9781443416511
Characteristics: xiii, 268 pages :,illustrations

This book is the third in the the Freakonomics series, and depending on whether you believe the authors or not may be the last. I never reviewed their first book "Freakonomics" as I'd read it a number of years ago before I started doing this reviewing thing, but I did review their second one "Superfreakonomics" in November 2017.

This book was also a delight to read, but it took a somewhat different approach that their previous two. In those books they essentially presented case studies of various things and then analyzed them based on the principals of microeconomics. This book however tells you how to approach new problems and analyze them from this perspective. As I mentioned above the authors sort of hint that this might be the last book in the series, but with all the weird stuff that goes on in the world, I hope it isn't. Their unique outlook on things is very different, and makes you think about what they have to say.

One of my favourite chapters was: "What do King Solomon and David Lee Roth Have in Common?" I'm not going to tell you what it is, but I'm pretty sure the answer will surprise you. The answer also makes me wish I'd taken some microeconomics courses in University.

Once again, just like in "Superfreakonomics" the chapters are relatively long so in order to grasp all that is being presented to you I would suggest you only read one chapter per day so that you have time to think about what they are saying.

Now that I've read this book I think it might be a good idea to reread "Freakonomics" just to remind myself what it was all about. I'll likely review it when I done, even though it will be published out of sequence.

Monday, 4 June 2018

"Colossus and the Crab" by D. F. Jones (1915-1981)

Colossus and the Crab

Published: New York: Berkley Pub. Corp
Year: 1977
ISBN: 0425034674
Other Physical Details: 219 p. ; 18 cm

The third and final book in the Colossus trilogy follows the events of the second book directly (whereas there was a multi-year gap between the events of the first and second). Dr. Charles Forbin is in contact with two representatives from Mars who are not as friendly as they seem. The character of Dr. Blake features quite prominantly in this book but oddly Cleo Forbin is barely mentioned at all, which I found to be a bit of a let down as her part figured highly in "The Fall of Colossus" and was what motivated Forbin to act the way he did.

The title of the book is somewhat misleading, until you get about halfway through and figure out what "the crab" is - no I won't tell you! I half expected the Martian visitors to be crab-like or something, but that was not the case.

Overall this book was an enjoyable read, and the storyline comes to a logical conclusion with no loose ends that I came across. I found Forbin's capitulation to the Martian visitors somewhat odd, as well as his change of heart and revolt as somewhat out of character as the solution that is presented at the end of the book should easily have been thought of earlier, and this would therefore have solved numerous problems.

Monday, 28 May 2018

"The Fall of Colossus" by D. F. Jones (1915-1981)

The Fall of Colossus

Published: New York: Berkley Pub. Corp
Year: 1975
ISBN: 9780425027608
Other Physical Details: 188 p. ; 18 cm

This novel is a continuation of the D. F. Jones' first instalment in the series entitle "Colossus", which was made into the movie "Colossus: The Forbin Project" and reviewed last week.

It takes place five years after the first novel, and by this time two of the character Charles & Cleo are married and have a child. Colossus during this time has grown, and essentially controls the world. There is no more disease, starvation, or war etc. The world is essentially at peace. Around Colossus a cult has arisen that essentially worships him or rather it as a god, and consequently Forbin as pseudo Pope.

The majority of the book revolves around the struggles Forbin has against Colossus, his personal Life, and how to make the two mesh. Another parallel storyline deals with an underground organization that wants to destroy Colossus and return the world to it's previous state as in their opinion there has been no creative thought in the world since the take over.

This book makes a good follow-up to the original, and even though it still has the general mindset prevalent in the mid-70's with regard to women's rights and other such things it is a good read.

"Being A Scot" by Sir Sean Connery & Murray Grigor

Publisher:London [England] : Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2008. ISBN: 9780297855408 Characteristics: 311 pages :,illustrations (chiefly ...