Not the best Guy Boothby novel I've read (I'm a fan of his Dr. Nikola series, but reasonably entertaining. Not sure why the author constructed the plo...moreNot the best Guy Boothby novel I've read (I'm a fan of his Dr. Nikola series, but reasonably entertaining. Not sure why the author constructed the plot as he did, with a big shift in perspective about a quarter of the way into the book, but it wasn't confusing -- just didn't seem to add much to the book. No spoilers here, but I saw the ending coming a mile away. Oh well! (less)
Found this to be the most helpful and accurate of the four Ecuador guidebooks I had loaded onto my iPad during a recent trip to that country. I will s...moreFound this to be the most helpful and accurate of the four Ecuador guidebooks I had loaded onto my iPad during a recent trip to that country. I will say, though, that ALL of the guidebooks I've run across seem to downplay some aspects of traveling in Ecuador that rather depressed me, namely the appalling poverty. Admittedly, all the guidebooks emphasized the need to be on guard because of the crime due to that poverty, but they all succumbed to what I think of as "travel brochure speak" - that is, they tended to paint a glowing picture of the country's well known tourist features such as the volcanoes and beaches, while not really coming to grips with what a visitor might find detracts from the experience, e.g. long slogs over crowded roads behind trucks spewing pollution, all the while passing what seems like endless shacks without electricity or plumbing. Maybe it was just me, but I'd been expecting a less depressing experience and none of the books, including the "Insight Guide" did little to prepare me. I must add that I've been to a number of developing countries, including India, but I had had a better idea of what to expect based on what I'd read beforehand. With Ecuador, I felt I'd been thrown a curve ball. (less)
Caveat emptor -- Amateurish travel diary, not a professionally written guide
I'm a little angry at myself for not paying closer attention before I boug...moreCaveat emptor -- Amateurish travel diary, not a professionally written guide
I'm a little angry at myself for not paying closer attention before I bought this self-published ebook on Amazon.com. If I'd bothered to preview it or look more closely at the reviews, I wouldn't have. My husband and I are preparing for a trip to Ecuador with friends from the country, and they'd mentioned how beautiful this area is, so I was intrigued by the title of this book. I "one-click" bought it before previewing it. Unfortunately, I later found it to be the rambling and often irrelevant musings of a woman who traveled through the area in the fall of 2013, making daily entries into a diary and then later, hey presto, apparently refashioning that journal into a short 65-page "guide" book.
I've done a fair amount of travel writing at various websites, some professional and some amateur. Let's just say I'm very familiar with amateur travel writers and writing, and while I can sympathize with those who want to share their travel experiences, I have less patience with those peddling their experiences for profit. I also have to wonder about the glowing reviews posted on Amazon as several of the reviewers have only reviewed this book, several others have reviewed only this plus another of the author's books on Cuenca, and only one of the reviewers gave it less than five stars (and that reviewer notes that the book is poorly written).
Before you buy this on Amazon.com, please preview it and consider if 65 pages is worth $4.99. I don't think so, personally, especially for a hodgepodge of travel journal jottings, many of little interest to anyone but the author and possibly her friends.
Read, for example, the riveting account of her attempts to get on the internet at a cyber cafe: "Ï went to another cabina but my password didn't work -- even after I enlisted help from the teen in charge. Finally, I went to another, but it was full of children with no empty computer. As a last resort I went back to the second and used a different computer. I finally got into my email, but the connection was so slow, I just checked for anything that might be important and then left. Interestingly, all three centers were run by children, who looked like they might be 13 but could be older since the population in the Andes tends to be shorter than in Cuenca."
On and on she prattles, about the athlete's foot that she's battled "for about a decade," her dislike of Nescafe, her run-in with a cactus and removal of its needles "one by one," the music that runs through her head as she hikes, what is printed on the bottle cap of the beer she drinks, her zodiac sign (Capricorn), her various "dopamine rushes" and general euphoria at being alive, and, at the end of the day, "With nothing but fatal darkness this moonless night, I was able to go deeply into myself."
We even get to hear about the notebook she writes in, "that I'd bought for 25 cents at a stationery store in Cuenca: a cartoon of a 'little boy blue blowing his bugle was on the cover!'" (She does love those exclamation marks.)
In short, this book consists of the sort of observations a traveler might jot down in a travel journal, but not the sort of thing that many others would care to read, a lot of dull detail about what she did, what she ate, what she bought, where she stayed, who she met, who said what to whom, what she saw, and what she thought about it -- basically the unedited outpourings about anything that caught her magpie eye.
The photos are of more interest, but they are certainly not worth $4.99. There are a number of tourist-style snapshots of the author, reinforcing the idea that this is a travel journal.
On the other hand, you might very well enjoy reading the unexpurgated text of a travel journal written by an amateur. If so, then this may very well be just the book for you. (less)
This was not a well-edited travel guide. Aside from the frequent basic grammar glitches ("it's" vs. "its" and "their" vs. "there," etc.), it seems to...moreThis was not a well-edited travel guide. Aside from the frequent basic grammar glitches ("it's" vs. "its" and "their" vs. "there," etc.), it seems to rely heavily on "updates" which seem to come from disparate sources. Some of the information was accurate, but other information, even updated information, was not. I had three guidebooks for Ecuador, and this was the one I liked and used the least. (less)
I simply couldn't get into this. Much as I usually enjoy biographies of singular individuals, it seemed I was in for a nonstop parade of people that J...moreI simply couldn't get into this. Much as I usually enjoy biographies of singular individuals, it seemed I was in for a nonstop parade of people that Janet met, places that Janet had been, and so on. While many of these people and places were noteworthy, there didn't seem to be much happening beyond surface commentary. About sixty pages in, I simply had to face the fact that I wasn't getting much out of the book. While not something I actively disliked, it wasn't anything I was enjoying, either.(less)
It's that time of year again, when I scan the groaning shelves and select my Halloween reading. So what did I end up doing? Downloading an e-book inst...moreIt's that time of year again, when I scan the groaning shelves and select my Halloween reading. So what did I end up doing? Downloading an e-book instead!(less)
Originally read about 15 years ago. Listened to the audio version read by Derek Jacobi most recently. It was a bit harder to follow in the audio versi...moreOriginally read about 15 years ago. Listened to the audio version read by Derek Jacobi most recently. It was a bit harder to follow in the audio version with all the complex history of the Plantagenets, but I greatly enjoyed Jacobi's reading, as always. (less)
Three cheers for underdogs! This straightforward but remarkable tale affected me deeply. One need not be a rower or sports fan to become completely im...moreThree cheers for underdogs! This straightforward but remarkable tale affected me deeply. One need not be a rower or sports fan to become completely immersed in this book, which dives effortlessly into the soul of one man, one team, one sport, and one era, forging them into an unforgettable story. Along the way, Brown reveals emotional truths that are strongly appealing and timeless. I can't think of a thing I'd change about this book. Bravo!(less)