Definitely not for budget travelers. Actually, this one might be mostly for armchair travelers. The way it's laid out is practically useless, since th...moreDefinitely not for budget travelers. Actually, this one might be mostly for armchair travelers. The way it's laid out is practically useless, since the sections are divided by type of listing (the sights, activities, lodging, food) and jump all over the map, rather than everything for each city/area being in one place. So if you're in Bangkok and want to find a hotel, you have to go to the "Staying" section near the end of the book to find a place. Now you want recommendations for a nearby restaurant? Flip back a few dozen pages to "Eating" and search all the listings for somewhere that might be close. If you need transit directions or to know what the local sights are, you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the book. It's totally counterintuitive.
2 stars for absolutely gorgeous photos on nearly every page.
I'm leaving for a big trip to Southeast Asia in less than a month, so I checked this (and several other guidebooks) out from the library to help me pl...moreI'm leaving for a big trip to Southeast Asia in less than a month, so I checked this (and several other guidebooks) out from the library to help me plan and decide which would be best to purchase and take along with me. Unfortunately, it won't be this one. At over 1,000 pages, the damn thing is like 2 full inches thick and weighs a significant amount -- I can't imagine lugging it around in my backpack. Since it also covers a huge amount of area -- Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar/Burma, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam -- each country only has 100 pages or so devoted to it, which I don't feel is sufficient for any of these places. The information that's contained here seems solid and like a good starting point, though. This might be a good choice of guide for a more far-reaching trip, but since I'm planning on only hitting the popular Thailand-Cambodia-Vietnam-Laos circuit this time around, I'm continuing to look for a more focused guidebook.(less)
It's been a while since I've read any PKD, so I was way overdue for a dose of his usual crazy. This one comes with an extra helping of surreality! It'...moreIt's been a while since I've read any PKD, so I was way overdue for a dose of his usual crazy. This one comes with an extra helping of surreality! It's the future (i.e. the year 1998 -- Dick didn't really leave himself much room with this one) and for reasons no one is really sure about, time has begun moving backward. It's a phenomenon known as the Hobart Phase, named after the guy who predicted it, who of course everyone assumed was a lunatic until it actually happened. Now people don't eat, they disgorge food; men don't shave in the morning but apply whiskers instead; and people begin smoking by lighting butts from the ashtray, which grow which each inhalation until they're full cigarettes again. There's some amusing wordplay with this -- "food" is now an expletive instead of "shit", and people greet each other with "goodbye" and end conversations by saying "hello". In addition, the library is no longer a depository of books and knowledge but a place where the written word is systematically eradicated. (There's a touch of Fahrenheit 451 about it.) Oh yeah, and the dead come back to life in their graves to start the whole cycle over again, growing young, dwindling into children and babies, and then finally finding a womb to crawl back into. Kind of a disturbing visual, that last part.
The whole reverse-time thing isn't that consistent though, and I wish it were more so. As usual, Dick is really great with ideas and then falters a bit in the execution. His characters are typically a bit flat and undeveloped, and here they're incredibly naive and constantly doing stupid things to boot. I still enjoyed this one, though. I'm actually kind of surprised it was as easy to follow as it was, since the temporal changes were really only window dressing to the main story.
I actually kept trying to read all the future-y words backwards, searching for hidden meanings, but there weren't really any that I found. I almost would have expected Dick to write the whole story in reverse to go with the whole "Goodbye" and "Hello" changes in language and conversation: .him past it put wouldn't I .mindfuck postmodern a be really would that Now .ecneirepe kcolc-retnuoc eurt a rof sdrawkcab yletelpmoc levon eht eht gnitirw ,srettel eht ot nwod lla ti esrever neve rO
But I suppose that would be much more difficult to read.(less)
Maybe I was expecting too much from these cat poets. A few of these were cute and made me crack a smile, though. My fave:
LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN
...moreMaybe I was expecting too much from these cat poets. A few of these were cute and made me crack a smile, though. My fave:
LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME IN LET ME I-- Oh, uh, hello I did not expect an answer I did not expect an entrance I did not expect this room to be so unbelievably dull So, uh, goodbye
"And then God created a furry lump which for lack of a better term He called the Cat. He looked at His creation and shook His head. It wasn't exactly what He had in mind.
He held the thing up in the air and it hung limply from His finger. He dropped it to the ground and it spread out in all directions as flat as a pancake.
He rubbed His beard incredulously. He didn't know whether to laugh or to cry. He knew of course that what He had just created was less than a miracle."
Unfortunately the rest of the book, while being cute, didn't really deliver the laughs. I don't think I even chuckled out loud once. Plus there's a bit too much dependence on the same old "cats sleep all day" jokes (and not much else), so it gets a bit repetitive. But it's not like this a book you're going to invest a lot of time in, so it's perfectly adequate for whiling away half an hour or so.(less)
I actually enjoyed this one more than I expected to. I thought it would be a total novelty act like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and others of that...moreI actually enjoyed this one more than I expected to. I thought it would be a total novelty act like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and others of that ilk (none of which I've read or have any desire to), but it's actually pretty clever. It's definitely its own story that borrows from the original Cinderella tale at times but completely differs in other parts.
It's certainly entertaining, but far from perfect. For one, Meyer's foreshadowing is extremely heavy handed so every turn of the plot was totally predictable. (Come on, who didn't call (view spoiler)[Cinder actually being Princess Selene from about the very first time she's mentioned (hide spoiler)]?) Weak character development in some cases, including a total cardboard-cutout villainess. The world building could also use a stronger foundation -- I had quite a few plot hole-y WTF questions. Like (view spoiler)[If the Lunars are all so afraid of mirrors, why do they apparently have them? Just to conveniently place on dinner plates and have immediately identifiable by special runes so the royals know they're being tested? That seems like a stretch... (hide spoiler)]. Also, the ending was completely unsatisfying. It wasn't quite a cliffhanger, but I would really appreciate a little more conclusion to the story than that whether or not there are more books in the series.
I will most likely read the next one, though. If nothing else, it was a nice bit of fluff.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)