Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Ern's Monthly Page Turners (March 2011)


A short break from my vacation posts as I try to catch up on posting my book reviews.  These are the titles I read in the month of March.  Only four titles this month (and I wasn't even on vacation yet).  But then again, I have been watching an excessive amount of movies.  So, without further ado, check it out:

THE LAST GRAIN RACE by Eric Newby – I had been meaning to read this title for quite some time as I’ve read almost all of Newby’s other titles that were published by Lonely Planet Publications. When Newby was eighteen, he signed on for a round trip from Europe to Australia in what was one of the last commercial sailing fleets. This is his story of working aboard a four-masted barque called Moshulu on its last voyage of the Australian grain trade. Not being a sailor or familiar with the different types of mast ships, it was a difficult read for me to understand. Just looking at the picture diagram of the Moshulu was enough to make my head spin. Sails (mizzens, top sails, spanker, topmast, jibs, etc.) and running rigging (brace, jiggers, foresail sheets, etc) – I have no idea what Newby was talking about. Of course Newby probably had an even more difficult time as the Captain of the ship and most of the crew didn’t speak English but Finnish. Getting over the technical terms though, makes for an interesting glimpse into a strange new world.

MY BEST FRIEND IS A WOOKIE : ONE BOY’S JOURNEY TO FIND HIS PLACE IN THE GALAXY by Tony Pacitti – I was going to read this last November in tribute to my friend who turned forty and is a self-professed “Star Wars” nerd. If I didn’t know better, this book could have been written by my friend. It just seems that Tony Pacitti beat him to the punch. As a young boy in a new town, he is pelted with mud balls. In order to comfort her son, Tony’s mother lets him watch “The Empire Strikes Back” which changed his entire outlook on life. The parallels to my friend’s opinions are uncanny. The adoration of the first three movies, his reaction to the prequels – “six years and seven-ish hours of crap nowhere near justified by 20 minutes of “kind of neat”. Even if you’re not a “Star Wars” fan, you will be entertained by this coming-of-age story. Okay, so I was a few months late to read it as a tribute to my friend, but I would like to take this opportunity to say to him, “Welcome to the 40s!!”.

MARK SEIBOLD PRESENTS QUINCY, HOBBY PHOTOGRAPHER by Mark Seibold – Author of the “Mr. Lunch” series, “Monkey Business” and other great children’s book. Although this title has gone out of print, I find it to be pretty entertaining. Blending real photographs with children’s book illustrations, our protagonist Quincy gives advice on how to take great pictures or rather as the book’s subtitle suggests, this is “the complete do-it-yourself guide to dog photography”. Quincy gives great advice like “you can stop to smell the roses, but dogs don’t hold their poses.” A great book for dog and photography lovers alike.

THE WINDUP GIRL by Paolo Bacigalupi – It’s been a while since I read any science-fiction but this came highly recommended to me by a friend who is a big fan of the genre. Back in my early teens, it was also my favorite genre to read, along with fantasy of course. This was the 2009 Nebula Award winner and the 2010 Hugo Award winning novel (along with China Mieville’s “City and the City”. However, in all the books I’ve read, I don’t recall a story that was specifically set in Asia. The time is the future. The oil industry is of the past. The world is now run by Calorie Companies and Anderson Lake is a company man working for AgriGen in Thailand. He is working undercover as a factory manager and is searching the streets of Bangkok to discover the secret of how Thailand is able to produce foods that were long thought to be extinct. It’s also in Bangkok where Anderson meets Emiko. Emiko is a “Windup Girl”, a bio-manufactured entity who was programmed to satisfy her owner. Not human but not robot or android. She is one of the “New People”. However, Emiko has been abandoned by her owner on the streets of Bangkok and is forced to perform acts of deviance on a stage. Some consider “New People” abominations and should be destroyed. Will Anderson discover Thailand’s secrets? Will Emiko free herself from bondage?

1 comment:

Matt Brown said...

I'm loving my 40s so far... thanks, Ern!