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mene's 2012 thread

75 Books Challenge for 2012

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Jan 1, 2012, 10:55am Top

Happy new year everyone :) My Christmas/New Year card is here: http://fav.me/d4k40il

Summary list, updated each time I finish a book: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/58915.html (includes my TBR pile at the bottom - still need to update that one though, as I have more books to add to it)

Jan 1, 2012, 11:50am Top

Happy New Year to you too, Selene, lovely card!

Jan 1, 2012, 2:42pm Top

Welcome back!

Jan 2, 2012, 12:19am Top

Glad to see you back with us, Selene!

Jan 2, 2012, 11:57am Top

Review also posted at my weblog http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/59584.html .
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: 電影少女 Video girl Ai volume 1 失恋
Author: 桂正和 (Katsura Masakazu)
Format: paperback
Pages: 197
Year published: original 1990, my edition 1991
Language: Japanese
ISBN number: 4088718011
Reason for reading: I wanted to read an entire book quickly and manga are almost always quick reads (except for Old-Japanese-Genji-manga with many footnotes :P). This series had been on my TBR pile for a while already (with a bookmark somewhere at the beginning of this volume, but the kanji was still a bit too difficult for me at the time I bought the series - not all kanji have furigana (see "Writing style" below for more explanation on the furigana issue)). I bought it from someone at a Dutch anime forum because it was really cheap (less than 2nd-hand manga prices in Japan) and I thought the art style was very pretty. The story also sounded interesting, but I remember my main reason for deciding to buy the series was the art and the cheapness XD

Back cover text:
There is no back cover text, but here is a part of the text from the Wikipedia page on the series. Don't read the Wikipedia page if you do not want spoilers! I removed them from the text below.
The story starts when Yota Moteuchi finds out that the girl he likes, Moemi Hayakawa, is in love with his best friend, Takashi Niimai. Disappointed by this fact, he decides to rent a video from a mysterious video store that appeared in front of him on his way home. The video store was called "Gokuraku" ("Paradise"). The unique thing about this video store was that the videos in the store contained "video girls", girls which literally come to life and out of the user's television when the video tape is played to cheer the renter up. Not knowing about the video girls, Yota chooses to rent the video 'I'll Cheer You Up!', starring Ai Amano. Ai comes to life with the purpose to brighten up Yota's life and encourage him to pursue his love.

However, Yota plays the video on a broken video recorder, which causes Ai to come out "broken"; among other effects she has the ability to feel emotions. Initially, Ai spends some of her time teasing Yota mercilessly in various sexual manners i.e. pretending to initiate intercourse, or joining Yota "innocently" in the bath "to help him wash". Yota's resulting embarrassment and attempt to extricate himself from the situation results, as always, in some slapstick humor and more resulting sexual tension.

I was reminded a bit of "Chobits" by CLAMP, but then a more 'old-fashioned' version with video tapes instead of computers! However, while Hideki (from Chobits) falls in love with the computer-in-human-form, Youta is already in love with a girl from his class and when he fails to tell her how he feels he wanders away and into a video rental store (which turns out to only appear for people with a "pure heart") where he rents the video with Ai. The 'embarrassing situations' from the second alinea from the 'back cover text' above are similar to the ones in Chobits I think, not suited for elementary school children. Those situations don't appear very often at all, only at the beginning. About halfway through, the story focuses on Youta and Moemi. I can see why Youta likes Moemi. And Moemi likes Youta too, as a friend, which is also nice, but Youta keeps wanting to say to her that he loves her (and keeps failing).
Youta didn't know what would happen with that video he borrowed (Ai appears from the tv...) and the girl he loves, actually loves his best friend, but Ai tries to help Youta with letting Moemi know that he loves her and it results in really cute situations. There's a lot happening in this one volume (much more than I'm writing down now) in the relationships between the characters. I would have thought Youta would've said to Moemi what he feels for her by the end of the volume, but there is a surprising twist at the end!

Writing style:
Here I want to elaborate a bit on the furigana thing. The small syllable-characters (hiragana or katakana) next to the kanji are called furigana, they show how to pronounce kanji. Mange which is suited for everyone have furigana next to all kanji, so elementary school children who cannot read all kanji yet, can still read the manga. When it's an adult manga (or just more suited for older children/teenagers) there is less furigana, so you would have to have learned the kanji already to be able to read the story. I think my kanji knowledge is around 700-800, but specialized towards words used in writings on history, fantasy and linguistics (because I started reading what I was interested in as soon as I could read a bit of Japanese). So I'm not exactly sure of the number, but one online test I did a while ago said it was between those numbers (though I can read articles on archeology in the newspaper easily, but in articles on economics I have difficulty understanding the kanji... >.>). In elementary school the children learn 1006 kanji, so with this manga having about 50% furigana I think people from the upper grades can already read it. But the story is geared towards high school students, so maybe all the furigana is just for ease of reading (even next to a few 1st-grade kanji like "口" (くち)). It's probably clear that it's not for elementary school students because it's not an all-furigana manga. "Chobits" didn't have furigana at all (except for some names) so maybe times changed (as this series was published in 1990 for the first time) or the publisher thought it was okay to have some younger people who'd be interested read it as well (as the main focus is a high school love triangle).

It reads quite easily, but there are quite a few dialect things and slang words used, which was what made me stop reading the first time. I'm not sure what I did in the meantime for it to be easier-reading now, but it was no problem for me, everything was easily understandable XD

The art was really pretty - quite realistic actually, not really the standard typical "manga style". It's still clearly manga style, but with many details and pretty backgrounds. There are quite a lot of greytones used, but not too much to make it unclear to read. It was very easy to see what was happening and who said what.

First I'll continue with the second volume of course, but it is a promising start of the series, I think :) I liked reading this volume.

Jan 2, 2012, 1:18pm Top

Looks like your reading year is off to a good start!

Jan 3, 2012, 2:38pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story, but it's the second book in a series. Review for the first book is here. There are some slight spoilers for the first book in this review.)
This review is also posted at my weblog http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/60147.html

Title: 電影少女 Video Girl Ai volume 2 消滅
Author: 桂正和 (Katsura Masakazu)
Format: paperback
Pages: 195
Year published: original 1990, my edition 1990
Language: Japanese
ISBN number: 408871802x
Reason for reading: Second in the series and I enjoyed book one!

Back cover text:
No back cover text. Short summary: In the first volume Takashi did agree to a relationship with Moemi, but they don't seem to connect well. Meanwhile Ai's tape was in need of repair and we meet the creator of the Video Girls/Boys who looks like an evil ugly stereotype nerd... He makes Ai a new tape but she's not allowed to love Youta anymore or she'll disappear. This makes her avoid Youta a bit and introduces a new character, Sorayama Takao, who's a real pervert and also causes major problems for Youta.

It immediately continues from the first volume. There are really sweet moments between the characters and the story now really focuses on them. The "speed" of the story is not very high, but now the author has the time to really show the characters' emotions. Also not a lot of so-called 'fan-service', but a lot of focus on the story and characters themselves, which is what I like in this series!

Art style:
Still very pretty :) The author can really draw the characters' emotions well.

A funny thing is that if you remove the dust cover, there's the image of a video tape on the book itself!

Yes, but first I'll continue with the third book :)

Jan 5, 2012, 8:54am Top

I'm going through my bookcase and sorting my TBR list... I think I got everything now!
Currently-reading is not sorted by genre, not-yet-started books are sorted. Some I still need to add to LT, so I'll do that this weekend. So on my TBR, currently-reading included, I now have around 65 books, including re-reads but excluding the remainder of the Tarzan, Rurouni Kenshin, Kodomo no omocha, RG Veda, Video Girl Ai and Pern series (the ones I own, that is).
Still, it's not a very high number so I should be able to get rid of my current TBR pile this year! Even adding the series mentioned above to the number, seeing as my average seems to be around 120 books a year. If you see anything you'd like to read a review of, I'll see if I can read that book a bit faster :)

Jan 5, 2012, 3:15pm Top

I am planning to read De val van de Vredeborch too, let me know when you start.

Jan 5, 2012, 3:32pm Top

I needed a book for tomorrow to start in, so I'll start De val van de Vredeborch tomorrow! I'm going somewhere where I'll have a lot of reading time.
*gets it out of the bookcase to put in bag*

Jan 5, 2012, 6:24pm Top

I will start it after I finished The Dragon Chair, it has 754 pages and I am half way ;-)

Jan 6, 2012, 10:43am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Ashma
Author: compiled and translated from Shani into Chinese by the Yunnan People's Cultural Troupe, translated into English by Gladys Yang
Format: hardcover
Pages: 82
Year published: not mentioned
Language: English, original Shani (but translated from the Chinese version)
ISBN number: no isbn number
Reason for reading: I borrowed it from a friend because it sounded interesting.

Back cover text:
There is no back cover text, but for the story (the entire story in prose form), you can go read it here.

First alinea of the preface:
"Ashma" is a long and colourful narrative poem which has been handed down orally for generations by the Shani people in Yunnan. The poem describes a young village girl, Ashma, and her brother Ahay. In simple, unadorned language, it relates Ashma's determined struggle against the despotic landlord who has carried her off. With their vitality and their longing for freedom and happiness, young Ahay and Ashma epitomize the whole Shani people.
A branch of the Yi, one of the minority peoples in Southwest China, the Shani live in Kweishan District, southeast of Kunming, the provincial capital of Yunnan. They have their own spoken language, and a simple written script. They love music and dancing, and can express their feelings and wishes with a simple musical instrument made of bambook - the mô-sheen.

First few verses:
A fine bamboo we lengthwise split
In two, four, eight, sixteen,
And choose a piece without a flaw
To fashion a mö-sheen.

For when the soft mô-sheen is played,
Our inmost thoughts are told.
No sweeter music has been heard;
We love it more than gold.

Beneath the rock bees build their hive,
And make their honey sweet;
But I, I cannot make a hive,
Or honey good to eat.

Beside the pool the long grass grows,
And cuckoos sing in spring;
But I, I cannot grow like grass,
And neither can I sing!

On Wikipedia, the Shani people are listed as "Sani" next to 'Southeastern' in the table: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yi_people . There's a little about the Shani people on a 'travel Yunnan' website: http://www.travelchinayunnan.com/minorities/peopleshani.htm

The story was short, though it was written in quite a few verses. After the introduction (of which you can read the first part above), the story of Ashma and her brother start.

Writing style:
There is, as can be expected of an originally oral story, a lot of repetition in the verses. However, the English translation read very nicely - it sounded like the same amount of syllables in all the verses, it was very consistent.

It was interesting to read, but I think I would not re-read this book. If there are other translations I'd like to read those (or maybe re-tellings), but there's not a whole lot about this story online (if you search for "ashma" you get a lot of "asthma" misspellings).

Jan 6, 2012, 11:55am Top

Ashma sounds interesting! I doubt I can get my hands on a copy of it though.

Jan 6, 2012, 5:59pm Top

Yes, I think it would be hard to find, having no isbn and no listed author...

Jan 7, 2012, 1:37pm Top

Originally posted at http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/60421.html
(I'm writing this review in Dutch because I don't think it will be published in English in the near future)

Titel: Open Boek - Handboek leesbevordering
Auteur: Jos Walta
Soort uitgave: harde kaft
Pagina's: 192
Jaar van publicatie: origineel 2011, mijn editie 2011
Taal: Nederlands
ISBN-nummer: 9789081736305
Waarom ging ik het lezen: Het is Jos' boek! Op de site van de boekwinkel staan op deze pagina ook foto's van het drukken van het boek. Maar ik ben volgens mij echt niet de doelgroep waarvoor het boek geschreven is (kijk maar bij de beschrijving van de hoofdstukken hieronder).

Als kinderen met plezier en interesse lezen, lezen ze meer en beter. Kinderboeken zijn daarom belangrijk voor de leesbevordering.
Leesbevordering zou daarom de basis van het leesonderwijs moeten zijn. Dat is het uitgangspunt van dit handboek.
Daarin speelt de leescoördinator de rol van spin in het web. Een adequate schoolbibliotheek is de motor. De boekenkring zorgt voor een verbinding van de werkvormen als rotonde van de leesbevordering.
De visie op leesbevordering is voorzien van vele praktische tips en uitwerkingen. 'Open Boek, handboek leesbevordering' is een aanrader voor iedereen die met kinderboeken werkt!

Eerste alinea (van de Inleiding):
In Open boek, handboek leesbevordering heb ik de visie op leesbevordering in het basisonderwijs geëxpliciteerd die aan de cursus Open Boek, opleiding leescoördinator ten grondslag ligt. De cursus is in 1997 ontstaan uit een project van Stichting Lezen: 'Schoolbibliotheken 2000' dat als doel had om de schoolbibliotheek een nieuwe impuls te geven. De cursus is erop gericht de leescoördinator een centrale rol toe te bedelen. De taak van een leescoördinator is bedoeld om samenhang in het leesonderwijs aan te brengen vanuit het perspectief van leesbevordering. Leesbevordering streeft ernaar plezier en interesse in kinderboeken op te wekken als basis voor een gezonde leesmotivatie. Alhoewel de term 'leesbevordering' op zich erg neutraal en nogal breed is, wordt die ook in dit handboek gebruikt omdat die algemeen gehanteerd wordt.

Hoofdstuk 1 wordt voorafgegaan door een voorwoord van Christiaan van Willenswaard van Stichting Lezen en een inleiding door Jos zelf (zie 'eerste alinea' hierboven). Ook wordt elk hoofdstuk begonnen met een illustratie en gedicht over boeken en/of lezen. Allemaal best bekende illustraties/gedichten (tenminste, ik heb ze bijna allemaal wel gezien in de boekwinkel).
Hoofdstuk 1: De bouwstenen
Dit is een kort hoofdstuk waarin Jos beschrijft hoe hij tot het publiceren van dit boek is gekomen (opleiding, werk, leesbevordering-gerelateerde activiteiten). Verder beschrijft hij ook nog wat er in zijn eigen boekenkast staat en zijn lievelingsverhalen voor gebruik in workshops/cursussen.
Hoofdstuk 2: Een andere visie op leesonderwijs In dit hoofdstuk worden gebruikte leesonderwijsmethoden enzo beschreven, soorten kinderboeken. Ook het waarom van leesbevordering en methodes hiervoor. Ik vond dit wel een interessant hoofdstuk.
Hoofdstuk 3: Voortgezet technisch lezen Er worden hier een aantal manieren uitgelegd hoe een docent 'lezen' op school kan aanpakken. Dat was voor mij niet zo interessant om te lezen. Wat ik wel leuk vond in dit hoofdstuk was de uitleg van de AVI-niveaus. Ik lette daar vroeger op de basisschool nooit echt op, ik las wat mij leuk leek (vanaf groep 4 zowel volwassenenboeken als kinderboeken) en als ik het met andere kinderen over AVI-niveaus had dan wist ik nooit echt precies op welk niveau ik zat (behalve als er net zo'n leestestje geweest was, maar op een gegeven moment hoefde ik die ook niet meer te doen). Recentelijk hebben ze de AVI-aanduiding veranderd van 1 t/m 9 naar AVI-Start, -M3, -E3, ..., -M7, -E7, -Plus. Met die "M7" wordt dan 'midden groep 7' bedoeld en met "E7" 'eind groep 7'. Eigenlijk lijkt mij dat persoonlijk iets demotiverender, want als je bijvoorbeeld in groep 5 zit en je leest nog steeds op M4 dan weet iedereen wel wat daarmee bedoeld wordt, met die AVI-cijfers wisten wij dat nooit precies (want het kwam niet overeen met de groepen). Er staan ook tabellen van die AVI-niveaus in dit hoofdstuk.
Wat Jos ook schrijft in de eerste sectie van dit hoofdstuk, is dat vóór de komst van het AVI-systeem in 1997 voortgezet technisch lezen werd vormgegeven als klassikaal lezen, waarbij alle leerlingen tegelijkertijd in hetzelfde boek lazen en leerlingen om de beurt een stukje moesten lezen. De zwakke lezers kregen toen juist weinig beurten omdat dat het proces teveel op zou houden. Dit 'klassikaal lezen' werd bij mij op de basisschool nog heel veel toegepast, maar de zwakke lezers kregen juist ontzettend veel beurten en de mensen die goed konden lezen maar één keer in de zoveel tijd (dus ik las steeds ver vooruit met een vinger op de plaats waar de klas was... ook niet motiverend inderdaad).
Hoofdstuk 4: Kinderboeken en jeugdliteratuur Het leukste hoofdstuk naar mijn mening - geschiedenis van de jeugdliteratuur en verschillende soorten kinderboeken worden hierin beschreven. Ik had eerder een boek over kinderboeken uit 1986 gelezen ("Over kinderboeken" van Joke Linders-Nouwens) en omdat Jos' boek ongeveer 25 jaar nieuwer is, loopt de beschrijving van de kinderboeken ook iets verder door (Harry Potter wordt nu bijvoorbeeld ook genoemd). In het oudere boek staan ook suggesties over leesbevordering, maar dan vooral gericht op ouders i.p.v. leerkrachten en het is ook iets meer "verhalend" geschreven dan Jos' boek, waarin redelijk wat dingen puntsgewijs staan opgeschreven. Toch merk je wel dat het boek uit 1986 iets gedateerd begint te raken. Ik weet niet hoeveel boeken over lezen/leesbevordering er normaal gesproken uit worden gegeven, maar na 25 jaar is er volgens mij toch wel een nieuw boek nodig (ik heb zelf alleen die uit 1986 en die van Jos, dus veel vergelijkingsmateriaal heb ik niet, maar ik denk toch wel dat ik deze conclusie mag trekken!).
Hoofdstuk 5: Leesbevordering: werkvormen Dit hoofdstuk gaat vooral over vertellen, manieren van vertellen in de klas en hoe je als leerkracht boeken in de klas kan behandelen. Het is best wel een lang hoofdstuk, want er worden heel veel dingen in besproken. Voor mensen die voor de klas staan is dit waarschijnlijk wel een handig hoofdstuk, maar voor mij was het dus niet zo interessant, aangezien ik geen leerkracht op een basisschool ben. Het deed me wel denken dat mijn basisschool echt heel erg weinig met boeken deed buiten de Kinderboekenweek (een oud documentatiecentrum met bijna enkel jaren-'80 informatieve boekjes, in een redelijk kleine ruimte die ik me herinner als een 'donker hol' (ik zat in de jaren '90 op de basisschool), iets van 60 cm boeken op de vensterbank in elke klas en geen wisselende collectie ofzo, en voorlezen werd ook niet zoveel gedaan). De docent die het leukste kon voorlezen was voor mij een docent Nederlands op de middelbare school, die las o.a. voor uit 'Kees de jongen' wat ik nog steeds een heel leuk boek vind, mede daardoor.
Hoofdstuk 6: Leesbevordering: activiteiten Een heel kort hoofdstuk waarin wat landelijke activiteiten worden beschreven (Kinderboekenweek, Nationale Voorleesdagen, Voorleesontbijt, Kinderjury, Nationale Voorleeswedstrijd, Schrijver op School, Rode Draad-pakket voor leesbevordering). Het is vooral een beschrijving van wat de activiteiten zijn en wat er daarbij mis kan gaan (wat op zich wel weer grappig beschreven is).
Hoofdstuk 7: Leesbevordering en ouders Een redelijk kort hoofdstuk met tips over hoe ouders met hun kinderen kunnen lezen (voorlezen/samenlezen) en ook wat leerkrachten kunnen doen om voorlezen en samenlezen van ouders met hun kinderen te bevorderen.
Hoofdstuk 8: De schoolbibliotheek Een hoofdstuk over boeken op school. Jos beschrijft wat hij op verschillende scholen is tegengekomen, dat vond ik wel een interessant stukje. Hij geeft ook tips wat scholen kunnen doen met hun schoolbibliotheek. Hij geeft ook een aantal stellingen over boeken-op-school waar leerkrachten op school over kunnen discussiëren en tips die ermee te maken hebben. Er staan veel foto's van de boekwinkel in dit hoofdstuk :) De foto's zien er best wel mooi uit in de grijstinten waarin ze afgedrukt zijn.
Hoofdstuk 9: De leescoördinator als spin in het web In dit hoofdstuk beschrijft Jos wat een leescoördinator doet. Er staan ook twee vragenlijsten in die aan docenten en kinderen gegeven kunnen worden om de leescultuur op school te onderzoeken.
Hoofdstuk 10: De cursus 'Open boek' en de netwerken leesbevordering Dit hoofdstuk gaat over de cursus, de doelgroepen ervan en wat de cursus inhoudt. Er komen ook een aantal mensen aan het woord die vertellen over hun ervaringen met de cursus (praktijkvoorbeelden).

Herleesbaarheid: Volgens mij is dit geen boek om 'lekker een avondje mee op de bank te gaan zitten'. Dat heb ik echter wel gedaan... maar daarvoor is het formaat eigenlijk niet heel handig (nét te groot). Toen ik ermee aan de tafel ging zitten, las het wel iets beter. Een groot deel van het boek is ook meer bedoeld als praktische handleiding, waar ik niet zoveel aan heb op dit moment. Als ik het nog een keer ga lezen, ga ik waarschijnlijk alleen specifieke stukken lezen of dingen terugzoeken, niet meer het hele boek achter elkaar uitlezen.

Jan 10, 2012, 5:41pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story, even though it's the fifth book in the series)

Title: Mostly Harmless - The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy trilogy
Author: Douglas Adams
Format: paperback
Pages: 230
Year published: original 1992, my edition 1993
Language: English
ISBN number: 0330323113
Reason for reading: I enjoyed the first four books and I got this book from a friend.

Back cover text:
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy has, in what we laughingly call the past, had a great deal to say on the subject of parallel universes. Very little of this, however, at all comprehensible to anyone below the level of Advanced God and, since it is now well-established that all known gods came into existence a good three millionths of a second after the Universe began rather than, as they usually claimed, the previous week, they already have a great deal of explaining to do as it is, and are therefore not available for comment at this time...

First alinea (each sentence on a new page, actually, and then chapter 1 starts on another new page):
Anything that happens, happens.
Anything that, in happening, causes something else to happen, causes something else to happen.
Anything that, in happening, causes itself to happen again, happens again.
It doesn't necessarily do it in chronological order, though.
The history of the Galaxy has got a little muddled, for a number of reasons: partly because those who are trying to keep track of it have got a little muddled, but also because some very muddling things have been happening anyway.

The story has to do with parallel universes (the back cover text is actually an excerpt from the beginning of the book), which I think is an interesting topic. We meet again Arthur, Trillian and Ford Prefect from previous books. I think you can read this after book 1, but as it's more of a "closing" story I still suggest to read the series in order. There's not a lot to tell about the story without spoiling, only that it's interesting to see in what way parallel universes are used. It also goes back to the events in the first book, which is why you should have read that book at least before starting this one.

Writing style:
Similar to the other Hitch Hiker's books. I always think of the writing style as "listening to someone telling you a story, but not very coherently, more like following his thoughts while talking". The subjects in the narrative jump around a bit around the actual story. The sentences themselves are causing the jumps to other subjects by their word usage, which is really interesting - although it does not make for a 'quick read'. You can already see a bit of that in the "First alinea" above.
Though I felt that near the end of the book (2/3rds in), the 'jumping around' stopped a bit and it focused more on the story itself, which is necessary to make a nice ending, I think.

There is actually a sixth book, written by Eoin Colfer (it says on the back cover of that book that Douglas Adams did want to write a sixth book, but died). So I'll read that one next - but this book certainly is re-readable, even separately (without a series re-read).

Jan 16, 2012, 5:38pm Top

I just tried drawing the The clan of the cavebear characters Ayla, Creb and Iza: http://fav.me/d4mks3u Clan people are hard to draw, I think, though I still like how they turned out :)

(I thought I could post it in this thread as it's a bit book-related too... I won't do it a lot though :P Only this once probably.)

Jan 19, 2012, 11:20am Top

I found an interesting book challenge I'll be doing, see my blog for more details: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/61604.html It's about reading food-related books, of which I do have a few on my TBR list :)

I also finished adding all my books to LT and completing my TBR list!

Today I plan to finish And another thing and today or tomorrow I want to write a review of it.

Edited: Jan 22, 2012, 4:48am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Keiko-san's Story: An Account of the Minamata Tragedy (free to read on Smashwords)
Author: Eustacia Tan
Format: e-book
Pages: 7
Year published: 2012
Language: English
Reason for reading: I saw it linked on Librarything and it was really short, so I didn't mind reading it on the computer screen. I read the HTML version on Smashwords.

Ebook Description:
In 2008, I had the opportunity to listen to the story of a victim of the Minamata tragedy. Here is her story.

First alinea:
In 2008, I was 15 and on my first trip to Japan. As it was a school trip, we were brought around to all sort of places, including the Minamata Disease Municipal Museum. As we looked at the exhibits, our studied nonchalance quickly turned into outrage at what happened. One of the most touching events was the opportunity to listen to Keiko-san’s story. Here is the story as it was told, without any amendments by me:

I didn't know anything about the Minamata disease, so I was a bit curious about it. The story itself only gives minimal information about the disease, but on page 6 there's a list of symptoms. I decided to look up the Wikipedia page afterwards (here, warning: photo of a 'deformed' hand, but nothing bloody or anything) and it says (for the people who don't want to click):
"Minamata disease (水俣病 Minamata-byō), sometimes referred to as Chisso-Minamata disease (チッソ水俣病 Chisso-Minamata-byō), is a neurological syndrome caused by severe mercury poisoning. (...) Minamata disease was first discovered in Minamata city in Kumamoto prefecture, Japan, in 1956. It was caused by the release of methylmercury in the industrial wastewater from the Chisso Corporation's chemical factory, which continued from 1932 to 1968. This highly toxic chemical bioaccumulated in shellfish and fish in Minamata Bay and the Shiranui Sea, which when eaten by the local populace resulted in mercury poisoning. While cat, dog, pig, and human deaths continued over more than 30 years, the government and company did little to prevent the pollution."
Eustacia re-tells the story of Keiko Ueno, whose family members died of the disease and her account of what happened when her husband first fell ill and the events afterwards. Though it does make me wonder what will now happen to all the people who get cancer from the nuclear accident in Fukushima last year (and there was also on the (Japanese and Dutch) news that polluted food and building materials from Fukushima was sold in other parts of Japan, as well as pollution in the tap water).

Writing style:
It reads easily, but the numbers were all written as numbers, which I think looked a bit odd in cases like "3 days later, in the evening, her husband died."
It looked like the English was not written by a native speaker, but it was really clear to read. It's so short that even if you happen not to like the writing style, you can read it very quickly.


Comment from Eustacia:
Thanks for reading and reviewing my short ebook. And thanks for pointing out the numbers thing, it's something that I can and will change(: The non-native style is intentional, because I thought that if I made the English perfect, it might lose something in (further) translation.

Jan 22, 2012, 5:19am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy #6 - And another thing...
Author: Eoin Colfer
Format: paperback
Pages: 340 pages for the story, some ten more with comments by Eoin Colfer and a timeline and such.
Year published: original 2009, my edition 2010
Language: English (= original language)
ISBN number: 9780141047720
Reason for reading: I had read the previous 5 parts and I liked Eoin Colfer's other books (mainly the Artemis Fowl series).

Back cover text:
Arthur Dent led a perfectly ordinary, uneventful life until The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy hurled him deep into outer space. Now he's convinced a cruelly indifferent universe is out to get him.
And who can blame him?
His life is about to collide with a pantheon of unemployed gods, a lovestruck green alien, a very irritating computer and at least one very large slab of cheese. If, that is, everyone's favourite renegade Galactic President can get him off planet Earth before it is destroyed.... again.

First alinea of the "Introduction" (skipping "Foreword" which is actually part of the story as well already):
So far as we know... The Imperial Galactic Government decided, over a bucket of jewelled crabs one day, that a hyperspace expressway was needed in the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral Arm of the Galaxy. This decision was rushed through channels ostensibly to pre-empt traffic congestion in the distant future, but actually to provide employment for a few ministers' cousins who were forever mooching around Government Plaza. Unfortunately the Earth was in the path of this planned expressway, so the remorseless Vogons were dispatched in a constructor fleet to remove the offending planet with gentle use of thermonuclear weapons.

After book 5 I thought, this is the ending. How would you want to write a sixth part? But Colfer succeeded and I thought it was a nice part 6. It really continues exactly from book 5, so you should read that one before this or you'll be really confused at the beginning, I think.
He wrote the characters in-character and also added to the Vogons and Wowbagger (the insulting alien) and Wowbagger's space ship. His description of Asgard was really funny to read after recently having seen the movie "Thor", which was not made yet when Colfer was writing this book. I must say that the movie-Asgard and the one in this book complement each other really nicely.
I did think that the story was less random (but more Random...) than the other books.

Writing style:
For a large part of the book, there are many Guide Notes in italic font inbetween the story, especially a lot at the beginning. It becomes less as you near the end of the book, because then there's more story. I didn't really like the guide notes, but the story was very interesting.
I was happy that Colfer didn't try to copy Douglas Adams' style exactly, but he did write in his own style. The sentences are more like "normal sentences" about funny things (or not funny), instead of sentences which continue about the words in the previous sentence. Because of this, I could easily read a lot of chapters on one day - with Douglas Adams' style I have read enough for one day after about two chapters or something (though I can read more).

It is re-readable, even without a series re-read. I liked this book :) It is also a good ending to the series.

Jan 22, 2012, 4:14pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De prinses en de stroper - twee fabels (original title "Two fables")
Author: Roald Dahl (translated by Sjaak Commandeur)
Format: paperback
Pages: 47
Year published: original 1986, my edition 1987
Language: Dutch (original English)
ISBN number: 9029023783
Reason for reading: It's a Roald Dahl book. And I wanted something short to read before going to bed.

Back cover text:
Wat Arthur Conan Doyle voor het detective-verhaal heeft betekend en Somerset Maugham voor het psychologische verhaal, dat betekent de Noors-Engelse schrijver Roald Dahl voor het genre dat door hem wordt beoefend en dat inmiddels gerust aangeduid kan worden met de benaming: het Roald Dahl-verhaal; de naam van de schrijver roept, net als die van zijn beide voorgangers, onmiddelijk de specifieke atmosfeer van zijn verhalen op.
Alle elementen uit het typische Roald Dahl-verhaal zijn vertegenwoordigd in de twee moderne fabels die hier onder de titel De prinses en de stroper worden gepresenteerd: de zorgvuldige opbouw van de plot, de akelige situaties waarin sommige personages verwikkeld raken, het komisch-absurde element en het lichtelijk scabreuze. Het thema van de beide verhalen, gebruik en misbruik van macht, staat in vele beroemde Dahl-verhalen centraal. Een bijzonderheid van deze verhalen is dat Dahl zich hier aan twee rasechte sprookjes heeft gewaagd, compleet met wijze vorsten, koninklijke jachtpartijen, maagdelijke prinsessen en een simpele mandenmakerszoon. Dahl schreef deze sprookjes - anders dan Andersen, grimmiger dan Grimm - puur voor zijn eigen plezier, maar toen zijn Engelse uitgever ze onder ogen kreeg, aarzelde deze niet om ze uit te brengen, met de zeventigste verjaardag van de auteur als bijzondere aanleiding.

First alinea:
De prinses en de stroper
Hoewel Hengest nu al achttien jaar was, scheen hij er nog altijd niets voor te voelen zijn vader op te volgen in diens mandenmakerij. Hij weigerde zelfs naar de oever van de rivier te gaan om er wilgetenen te verzamelen. Dit verdroot zijn ouders zeer, maar het waren verstandige mensen en ze wisten wel dat het zelden loont om een jonge knaap te dwingen tot iets wat niet naar zijn hart is.

De prinses en de stroper
My first reaction when I finished this story was to laugh aloud - it's very cute! Even though you really wouldn't expect that when you start reading. I didn't expect it until the last page actually... But then, it's a short story (32 pages). Hengest is a poor boy who starts catching animals so he and his parents have something extra to eat. He gets so good at it that he dares to go to the grounds around the castle, where he meets the princess and the king. From there on I won't tell anything more because of spoilers, but I did think 'where are his parents suddenly?'. Though the story is probably too short for that and it's not necessary to write about his parents later on in the story, but still it was something I wondered about.

Prinses Ovaria
...was my first reaction after finishing. Really unexpected ending!
Princess Ovaria changes overnight into the prettiest girl there is. All the men in the kingdom come to love her, but she becomes bored with it. Except for one man... her father, the king.

Writing style:
Short, without any real details in the sentences. That doesn't really bother me as I knew they were short stories, but it did leave me wondering about some tiny things (like the parents thing mentioned above). Not that those things were essential to the stories, though.

I think so, yes XD The book only took me about 10 to 15 minutes to read so it's a really short "inbetween" book. However, I think there should be quite a while between re-reads because the endings are so unexpected.

Jan 22, 2012, 8:09pm Top

#18: Congratulations on getting all your books added to LT! One of these days I will get all mine done.

Jan 23, 2012, 6:49am Top

Do you still have a lot of books to add?

Jan 25, 2012, 3:27pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The girl who heard dragons
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Format: paperback
Pages: 402
Year published: original 1994, my edition 1995
Language: English (= original language)
ISBN number: 0812510992
Reason for reading: It's a re-read, which I started because I wanted a short book to read on the bus. It's not really a short book of course, but it contains a collection of short stories. When I got the book, my parents said I could choose one book from the bookstore because there was a discount thing. I doubted between this one (I had never read anything by Anne McCaffrey yet, but the title sounded interesting and the illustrations were really pretty - my edition has illustrations by Michael Whelan) or an abridged "The Tale of Genji" English translation. But as I don't like abridged versions I chose this book.

Back cover text:
No back cover text about the story.

First alinea:
Aramina was aroused by the urgency of her parents' voices: Dowell's a fierce whisper of persuasion and her mother's a fearful rejoinder. She lay still, at first thinking that her mother had had another of her "seeings," but on such occasions Barla's voice was totally devoid of emotion. Straining her ears to pick up only her parents' words, Aramina ignored the myriad nocturnal noises of the enormous Igen cavern that sheltered some of the hundreds of holdless folk on Pern.

Only the first story in this collection takes place on Pern (another planet, with humans and dragons). If you've never read any Pern books before, I don't think it really is the best introduction. I remember being a bit confused about the world this story was taking place in, but after reading the first "real" book about Pern (Dragonflight), this story made a bit more sense. Still, even on first read, this was the most interesting story of the entire book. On re-reading, the first story stays the most interesting. The other stories are short stories: science-fiction (in space or on alternate worlds), modern-day (stories taking place in this world, normal-world or with a bit of magic), history (in the past on this world or an alternate world). They're less interesting, but still I read them every time because I'm reading the book anyway.

Writing style:
Easy reading, with interesting word usage. Not too simple and not too complex either.

Rereadability: Yes, for the first story, which stays interesting on re-reads. I think this is my 3rd time reading the book. The other stories are less interesting, but okay enough to not put the book aside. I like Anne McCaffrey's Pern stories best (and I also like her Acorna stories), but for the rest I wouldn't buy her other (science fiction) stories or borrow them from the library. I really wanted the first story to be the entire book, though :P

Jan 25, 2012, 3:40pm Top

I share your love for the Pern stories (those translated in Dutch that is), discovered them through members of this group in 2009 ;-)

Jan 25, 2012, 5:22pm Top

So far I've only read Dragonflight, Dragonsinger and Dragonsong, but I have a lot of other Pern books waiting to be read this year :D I think I'll be reading many of them for the "Fantasy February" thread.

Edited: Jan 31, 2012, 7:00am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De verborgen universiteit #1 - De erfenis van Richard Grenville (The hidden university #1 - Richard Grenville's legacy/inheritance)
Author: Natalie Koch
Format: hardcover
Pages: 623
Year published: original 2011, my edition 2011
Language: Dutch (= original language)
ISBN number: 9789021439525
Reason for reading: My mother had bought it and said it was Dutch fantasy... Well, that was the first reason to read it (really, Dutch published not-a-children's-book-fantasy?) and it was about a magical university. I had read Lev Grossman's The magicians already, which was also about a magical university, but I only liked the first half of that book and not even that much (I do not recommend 'The magicians', I wouldn't re-read it...). As my mother liked "De verborgen universiteit" and the back cover text still sounded interesting and the cover looked pretty (>.>), I decided to read it anyway.
Though I thought the title was "De verborgen universiteit", as the 'real' book title was so small and the series title was so large... Weird.

Back cover text:
Als de negentienjarige Alexa Westerhof een semester aan een kleine Londense universiteit gaat studeren, ontdekt ze al snel dat het gotische gebouw geheimen herbergt, geheimen die ook haar leven voorgoed zullen veranderen. Een dramatische gebeurtenis op de campus brengt haar in contact met magi, mensen met bijzondere krachten, waar ze zelf ook over blijkt te beschikken. Terwijl ze colleges volgt en van het studentenleven geniet, bestudeert ze in het geheim magie en leert haar krachten ontwikkelen. Ze ontdekt dat Londen vol mysterieuze plekken zit, van verborgen kelders en kroegen tot spookmetrostations, en het wordt haar vooral duidelijk dat ze tegenover de buitenwereld niets mag loslaten over deze wereld.
Intussen gebeuren er raadselachtige dingen; als eerst een docent en daarna haar huisgenote, het dromerige goth-meisje Rain, ten prooi vallen aan een onverklaarbare bewusteloosheid, gaat ze op onderzoek uit. Iemand houdt haar in de gaten, maar wie - en waarom?

De erfenis van Richard Grenville is het eerste deel van de trilogie De verborgen universiteit. Het is een verhaal over magie, een kunst en wetenschap die nog springlevend is - maar hoe lang nog?

First alinea (of chapter 1, skipping the not-numbered real first chapter called 'Vooraf'):
'Engeland?' Alexa's moeder trok de brief uit haar handen. 'Ben je gek geworden?'
'Wat is er gek aan dat ik een halfjaar aan een buitenlandse universiteit wil studeren?' Alexa griste de brief terug. Dik crèmekleurig papier met een watermerk van het universiteitslogo. De schrijver heette haar voor het komende semester welkom aan Carnforth Park University en beloofde haar een plek in een van de studentenhuizen van de universiteit, in een sierlijk handschrift ondertekend met een zwierige haal. Prof.dr. Artemus C.M. Jones. Magister Magnificus. De neergaande lijnen waren dikker dan de opgaande, alsof de woorden met een kroontjespen waren geschreven. Ze vroeg zich af wat voor man het was die in het computertijdperk zijn brieven nog met de hand schreef.

First I want to say: WHY is the magical university in England? In the book it is said there are also universities in France and German, but even though it is explained in-story (too few magi-people), I think it should be in the Netherlands :P
Now for the short, English summary: Alexa, a Dutch university student, goes on exchange to a small university in London, which is actually a cover for the magical university. There she discovers she also has magical powers, which is not of the wand-variety like in Harry Potter, but it has a lot of similarities and also some differences. It also has a going-into-a-book plotline, which really surprised me, but I liked that as I like such storylines - though the way the author described the book-world when Alexa first appears in it, sounded really familiar. I think it really reminded me of an Angel-book in which Wesley also goes into a book. A bit... standard, I think, but for the rest it was interesting and original.
As for the parallels with Harry Potter, with the teacher Rafiel I thought "Snape!" (really...) and with Matthews I thought "Lupin!" (really, so many similarities, just as with Rafiel/Snape...), though it was quickly said in the book that werewolves didn't exist :P I think the author knew that people would compare the book to Harry Potter, so she made sure she explicitly noted some differences.
I thought the way Alexa discovered that she had magical powers was interesting. Not "Yay let's use them!" but a bit more realistically.
Also, the hidden university is called the "Untracable University", also shortened to "UU" in-story. Which is also the abbreviation of "Utrecht University"... :O When one of the characters mentioned the UU had a large library of magical books, I was confused for a moment. What, suddenly we're talking about a university in the Netherlands? Then why did Alexa just not go there? But then I read on and saw it was the abbreviation for Untracable University... (>.>)

Writing style:
A bit too much info-dump about the magical world during Alexa's classes (at the beginning), or when she was reading a book about it (then the author just wrote down all the text of the book), also at the beginning. It's the quickest way to get more info about the magical world to the reader, but it was very obvious...
I did like that the author sometimes put English sentences in the text, because it was taking place in England and people would be talking English. Most of it was still Dutch though (now, what would the English translator do? Everything in English?). I did think the author used some specific English expressions because, even though there is a Dutch translation, the English ones are also quite well-known in the Netherlands and (some) people do use them in daily life.
Sometimes there was a sudden short sentence inbetween longer sentences though. Probably for stylistic reasons, and most of the time it's not really that noticable, but sometimes it is and then I was 'thrown out' of the story, because of it.
At the end of the main story, there was a short story told by one of the minor characters. It's... not a story that would have won the short story literature contest ^^; (Since I've read all those entries for the contest, I still keep judging short stories XD Though I do the same with longer stories, otherwise I wouldn't be writing these reviews...). No real plot, just flow-of-thoughts (which weren't written in a way I wanted to keep reading, which was the case with the main story most of the time), though you do know the short story's context from reading the main story. I think this author should stick to longer stories though... Her main story does have a real plot with subplots.

I liked the story and I would certainly re-read it. It was really enjoyable and mostly I liked the writing style, though I did see some things that could have been better.
Still, there are some things I did not really like: that the magical university is (again) in England, like the high school in Harry Potter (yes, the author mentioned in-story that England/Ireland/Scotland were magical places, but still, I think the Netherlands can have magical places too :P) and that it will be a trilogy... Why does everything have to be a trilogy nowadays? Is it for money (>.>) ?
Though I would recommend this book FAR more than Lev Grossman's book if you're looking for a book about a magical university - unfortunately it's not translated to English yet. I think it's fun for the British readers that the university is located in London :)

This entry was originally posted on http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/63296.html

Jan 30, 2012, 12:23pm Top

De erfenis van Richard Grenville sounds good!
But I think I am going to wait untill the whole series is published ;-)

Jan 30, 2012, 2:27pm Top

Book 2 should be published this year and book 3 next year, I read.
Not such a long wait :)

Feb 7, 2012, 5:59pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Dragonflight (on Librarything)
Author: Anne McCaffrey
Series: Pern (mostly a series of stand-alone books, but this should be the "first" one)
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): The girl who heard dragons
Format: Hardcover book combining Dragonflight, Dragonquest and The White Dragon, Book Club Edition
Pages: 188
Year published: original 1968, my edition 1978
Language: English (original language)
ISBN number: no ISBN number
Reason for reading: It's in the book together with two other Pern stories I want to read. I've already read this story in a separate book, but I liked it as well then so I didn't mind a re-read.

Back cover text:
The first humans to settle on Pern barely noticed a distant planet in the same system; their descendants couldn't afford such an oversight. For the orbit of that Red Star swept it close to Pern at perihelion - and when that happened, deadly silver Threads would fall through the skies of Pern, mindlessly searing all they touched.
To combat these invasions, the Pernese bred huge, sensitive flying beasts that could teleport themselves in an instant, and destroy Thread in midair with flaming breath. Men and women with telepathic ability were trained to ride the dragons, giving rise to countless heroic tales... and the thrilling sage recounted here:

DRAGONFLIGHT. In return for protection, land Holders and Craftsmen have traditionally tithed food and supplies to the dragonweyrs to which they are bound. But it has been nearly 400 years since the last Threadfall, and some people have come to doubt that the menace will ever strike again.
F'lar, rider of Pern's greatest bronze dragon, has no such illusions. The Red Star is near; Thread will fall soon. And unless the dragonmen find a new Weyrwoman - a woman of sufficient sensitivity and intelligence to bond with a queen dragon - Pern will not survive.
Then F'lar meets Lessa, last of a noble bloodline that had already produced Pern's most legendary weyrwomen. And between them, Lessa and F'lar create a new legend.

First alinea of the Introduction:
When is a legend legend? Why is a myth a myth? How old and disused must a fact be for it to be relegated to the category "Fairy-tale"? And why do certain facts remain incontrovertible while others lose their validity to assume a shabby, unstable character?
Rukbat, in the Sagittarian sector, was a golden G-type star. It had five planets, and one stray it had attracted and held in recent millennia. Its third planet was enveloped by air man could breathe, boasted water he could drink, and possessed a gravity that permitted man to walk confidently erect. Men discovered it and promptly colonized it. They did that to every habitable planet, and then - whether callously or through collapse of empire, the colonists never discovered and eventually forgot to ask - left the colonies to fend for themselves.

First, the names with apostrophs in it are only for the male humans and are made by using the first letter of the father and a syllable of the mother's name. So there's logic in it :) It's not random let's-use-an-apostroph-names.
I really liked the story. The kind of fantasy books I prefer are the ones which are a bit "mixed" with science fiction elements and which have some explanation of the 'magic' (why does magic exist, or how does it work?). In the Pern books there's no magic, but there is a bit of a science-fiction element. The people on Pern don't know how there came to be people there, though.
I think it's an interesting world to read about :) The story in this book was one I enjoyed a lot. I still think it's quite original what Anne McCaffrey thought up about the "dragons" and their abilities. It makes sense! And I didn't expect the way the story was going (well, first time, but on re-reading I still liked it and it was still 'unexpected', as far as re-reading a story can have 'unexpectancies').

Writing style:
Easy-reading. Some English words I didn't know, but those meaning are easily derivable from the context. I started pronouncing the apostroph-names without apostrophs for easier reading, though. "Flar" instead of "F(break)lar".

Yes! Even though I already read it twice now :P But first I'll read some other Pern books.

Feb 10, 2012, 5:31pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Blauwtje en Geeltje (English title: Little Blue and Litte Yellow)
Author: Leo Lionni
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: I don't know, but I finished it within 5 minutes.
Year published: no idea...
Language: Dutch (I think it's originally Italian, but Librarything had English, French, German, Swedish and Italian editions as well)
ISBN number: 9789020202649
Reason for reading: I was at Kitt's house and she said I should read it. So I did XD

It was about two dots, a blue one and a yellow one. They were friends and they lived across the street from each other. One day, Little Blue was home alone. His mother said he should stay inside but he went out to play with Yellow. And then... :D
It was so cuuuute! I didn't expect what happened, very nice :)

Writing/Drawing style:
Very short sentences on each page, only one or two. The pictures are illustrations to the text, it's not really as if the pictures are telling more than the text does, but the story is understandable if you're only looking at the pictures, I think.
I thought the pictures looked as if the elements were torn from coloured paper, with ragged edges. I liked that :)
On Amazon you can "click to look inside" (here), but you can also get an idea of the image style from the front cover. But the book description on Amazon has a spoiler, so be careful (even though it's a really short book).

It was so so so so cuuuuuuuuuute!! Go read it :D I'd re-read it too XD The dots are so cute XD

Feb 20, 2012, 4:35pm Top

Title: Agency and the Semantic Web
Author: Christopher Walton
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 272 (I read about 60 pages)
Year published: original 2006, my edition 2006
Language: English (= original)
ISBN number: 978-0199292486
Reason for reading: For a course I had to read chapter 2.1, 2.2 and 5.1 and 5.2 of this book. So my review will only be about those chapters.

Book description (copied from Amazon):
This highly topical text considers the construction of the next generation of the Web, called the Semantic Web. This will enable computers to automatically consume Web-based information, overcoming the human-centric focus of the Web as it stands at present, and expediting the construction of a whole new class of knowledge-based applications that will intelligently utilize Web content.

The text is structured into three main sections on knowledge representation techniques, reasoning with multi-agent systems, and knowledge services. For each of these topics, the text provides an overview of the state-of-the-art techniques and the popular standards that have been defined. Numerous small programming examples are given, which demonstrate how the benefits of the Semantic Web technologies can be realized at the present time. The main theoretical results underlying each of the technologies are presented, and the main problems and research issues which remain are summarized.
Based on a course on 'Multi-Agent Systems and the Semantic Web' taught at the University of Edinburgh, this text is ideal for final-year undergraduate and graduate students in Mathematics, Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, and Logic and researchers interested in Multi-Agent Systems and the Semantic Web.

First alinea of chapter 2:
In the introductory chapter of this book, we discussed the means by which knowledge can be made available on the Web. That is, the representation of the knowledge in a form by which it can be automatically processed by a computer. To recap, we identified two essential steps that were deemed necessary to achieve this task:
In this chapter we elaborate on these two steps to show how we can define ontologies and knowledge bases specifically for the Web. This will enable us to contruct Semantic Web applications that make use of this knowledge. The chapter is devoted to a detailed explanation of the syntax and pragmatics of the RDF, RDFS, and OWL Semantic Web standards.

Chapter 2: Web knowledge (2.1 and 2.2)
These subchapters are about the following topics: Resource description framework, RDF resources and representation, An XML syntax for RDF, RDF schema vocabularies, RDF schema concepts, An RDF syntax for RDF schema.
It assumes XML knowledge, but I think it was understandable even when you know very little about XML. There are code examples, which make it clearer.
I've never done anything with RDF before, but reading it, it doesn't seem to be very difficult. Though I think that when I start using it, I'll probably have to refer back to this chapter for the syntax.

Chapter 5: Reasoning on the Web (5.1 and 5.2)
These subchapters are about Query languages, SPARQL query language, Description logics, Description language, Knowledge representation, Reasoning by knowledge inference, Reasoning techniques.
In the introduction to chapter 5 it said that chapter 3 and 4 were about agents, but that's another course... We'll have to use RDF and SPARQL for the upcoming assignment, so I'm reading these chapters beforehand.
SPARQL looks a lot like normal SQL, but has some notational differences (and also theoretical differences of course, as SQL is for relational databases and SPARQL for "knowledge bases"). Different things are possible which you would not really expect in normal SQL. The explanation is mostly clear, but I think things would become clearer if you were actually using SPARQL from problems instead of just reading the examples.
There's a lot of logic in the part about "Description Logics" until the end of this subchapter. I think it's a bit more difficult to understand when you haven't done at least a basic logic/set theory course.

Writing style:
"Dry" reading, not very interestingly written. Everything is quite clearly explained, though, with enough examples, but if your thoughts start wandering while reading, you have to re-read a part because most parts of this text aren't really written in a "don't think and just read"-like style. Which can be expected of a course book, of course.

...for my exam, probably XD

Feb 21, 2012, 6:59am Top

I'll be reviewing some more course books as the one in the previous post. It might not be really interesting for everyone, but I'm reading them anyway! And I decided that I'd write more reviews this year :)

I also organized my list of tags so book reviews are more easily browse-able: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/tag/

Feb 24, 2012, 8:29am Top

Title: Vision Science: Photons to Phenomenology
Author: Stephen E. Palmer
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 832 (I read about 170 pages)
Year published: original 1999, my edition 1999
Language: English
ISBN number: 978-0262161831
Reason for reading: For a course I had to read chapter 1, 4.2 and 5 of this book. So my review will only be about those chapters.
On Amazon there are more detailed reviews for all the chapters here.

This book revolutionizes how vision can be taught to undergraduate and graduate students in cognitive science, psychology, and optometry. It is the first comprehensive textbook on vision to reflect the integrated computational approach of modern research scientists. This new interdisciplinary approach, called "vision science," integrates psychological, computational, and neuroscientific perspectives.

The book covers all major topics related to vision, from early neural processing of image structure in the retina to high-level visual attention, memory, imagery, and awareness. The presentation throughout is theoretically sophisticated yet requires minimal knowledge of mathematics. There is also an extensive glossary, as well as appendices on psychophysical methods, connectionist modeling, and color technology. The book will serve not only as a comprehensive textbook on vision, but also as a valuable reference for researchers in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, computer science, optometry, and philosophy.

First alinea of chapter 1:
Most of us take completely for granted the ability to see the world around us. How we do it seems no great mystery: We just open our eyes and look! When we do, we perceive a complex array of meaningful objects located in three-dimensional space. For example, Figure 1.1.1 shows a typical scene on the Berkeley campus of the University of California: some students walking through Sather Gate, with trees and the distinctive Campanile bell tower in the background. We perceive all this so quickly and effortlessly that it is hard to imagine there being anything very complicated about it. Yet, when viewed critically as an ability that must be explained, visual perception is so incredibly complex that it seems almost a miracle that we can do it at all.

Chapter 1: An Introduction to Vision Science
This chapter talked about biology and physics stuff having to do with seeing/vision/light/brains. To me it sounded like things I had had in high school (except for some of the brain stuff, but I had already read about that as well). So, this chapter wasn't very interesting to read as there was very little "new" information for me. It is a good introduction to the topic, though.

Chapter 4.2: Processing Image Structure - Psychophysical Channels
This chapter is about what psychophysicists do, about sinusoids and wave properties and Fourier stuff (which was actually better explained in another course by the teacher of that course, but if you already know about this stuff it's not very important that it's not explained in depth a lot - and otherwise there are lots of explanations about this on the internet), more about vision stuff and "aftereffects". I do think knowing something about harmonics in waves might be useful before reading this chapter (I learned about such things in sounds but the same things are applicable here). The author also talks about "Gabor functions" as if the reader already knows about them. Maybe he explained in another part of the book - that I don't know - but if you're just reading this book for fun, I think you can 'skip' those parts.

Chapter 5: Perceiving Surfaces Oriented in Depth
This chapter covers the following topics, quoting from the chapter's introduction: "I have organized the present discussion of sources of depth information in terms of four categories: ocular information (accommodation and convergence), stereoscopic information (binocular disparity and Da Vinci stereopsis), dynamic information (motion parallax and accretion/deletion of texture), and pictorial information (all the rest)."
This chapter I thought to be more interesting than the first one. There was quite a lot of overlap with my Computer Graphics course, minus the mathematical formulas. It talked a lot about algorithms without actually giving the algorithms (which I have come to expect from Computer Science books, but then this is no CS book at all).

Writing style:
The writing style of chapter one is really easy. It did really read like a high school textbook, save the layout, which was similar to a normal university textbook.
The writing style in chapter 5 was much more like what I have come to expect from a university textbook. Not "super difficult" English or anything, but not as if written for a younger person, but for someone on the same level (even though the author is explaining things).

For the exam probably... While it is an interesting topic, and the book is a good introduction, I don't think I'm going to read the other chapters as well.

Feb 24, 2012, 11:04am Top

Title: An Introduction to the Event-Related Potential Technique
Author: Steven J. Luck
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 388 (I read about 50 pages)
Year published: original 2005, my edition 2005
Language: English
ISBN number: 978-0262621960
Reason for reading: I had to read the first chapter for a course, so my review will only be about the first chapter

Book description (copied from Amazon):
The event-related potential (ERP) technique in cognitive neuroscience allows scientists to observe human brain activity that reflects specific cognitive processes. In An Introduction to the Event-Related Potential Technique, Steve Luck offers the first comprehensive guide to the practicalities of conducting ERP experiments in cognitive neuroscience and related fields, including affective neuroscience and experimental psychopathology. The book can serve as a guide for the classroom or the laboratory and as a reference for researchers who do not conduct ERP studies themselves but need to understand and evaluate ERP experiments in the literature. It summarizes the accumulated body of ERP theory and practice, providing detailed, practical advice about how to design, conduct, and interpret ERP experiments, and presents the theoretical background needed to understand why an experiment is carried out in a particular way. Luck focuses on the most fundamental techniques, describing them as they are used in many of the world's leading ERP laboratories. These techniques reflect a long history of electrophysiological recordings and provide an excellent foundation for more advanced approaches.The book also provides advice on the key topic of how to design ERP experiments so that they will be useful in answering questions of broad scientific interest. This reflects the increasing proportion of ERP research that focuses on these broader questions rather than the "ERPology" of early studies, which concentrated primarily on ERP components and methods. Topics covered include the neural origins of ERPs, signal averaging, artifact rejection and correction, filtering, measurement and analysis, localization, and the practicalities of setting up the lab.

First alinea:
This chapter introduces the event-related potential (ERP) technique. The first section describes the goals of this book and discusses the perspective from which I’ve written it. The second section provides a brief history of the ERP technique. The third section describes two simple ERP experiments as examples that introduce some of the basic concepts of ERP experimentation. The fourth section describes the advantages and disadvantages of the ERP technique in relation to other techniques. The fifth section describes the neural and biophysical origins of ERPs and the associated event-related magnetic fields. The final section contains a brief description of the most commonly observed ERP components in cognitive neuroscience experiments.

Chapter 1:
First the author explains that he has really written this book for beginners, as an introduction to ERP. Then he starts with a bit of history and the rest of the chapter is about general ERP things and brainwaves. He never really goes "in depth", but of course that can be expected as it's the first chapter of the book.
I don't know how easy everything is to understand if you have never done a course dealing with something brain-related (or have never read anything about it). I recognized most important things from my course on psycholinguistics.

Writing style:
It is a writing style that reads quite quickly. He doesn't use very difficult English words, but he does use a lot of terms which might be harder to understand (though he does explain most things anyway)...

For my exam I think :P I'm probably not going to read the rest of the book unless I really start working with ERPs.

Feb 26, 2012, 1:07pm Top

Title: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Author: Scott A. Huettel, Gregory McCarthy, Allen W. Song
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 492 (I read 32 pages)
Year published: original 2004, my edition 2004
Language: English
ISBN number: 978-0878932887
Reason for reading: I had to read chapter 8 for a course, so my review will only be about chapter 8.

Book description (from Amazon):
This textbook provides a true introduction to functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which has become the dominant research technique in cognitive neuroscience. Although there is extraordinary interest in fMRI among researchers and instructors alike, two problems have hampered the study of this technique. First, existing texts are targeted toward practicing scientists in the field and assume a level of expertise not possessed by most students. Second, most students do not have access to fMRI equipment and data, so they have no opportunity to gain hands on experience. This textbook overcomes these limitations by presenting a comprehensive overview of all aspects of fMRI, designed with undergraduate students, graduate students and beginning researchers in mind. The authors' goal was to create a book that is sufficiently scientifically rigorous for scientists in the field, but also accessible enough to be easily read and understood by beginning students. The book can be used as the primary text for classes in fMRI, or as a secondary text for cognitive neuroscience, research methods or other courses.

First alinea of chapter 8 "Spatial and Temporal Properties of fMRI":
Neuronal activity associated with cognitive processes unfolds in both space and time. In investigating this activity using fMRI, we must consider its spatial and temporal properties. Spatial resolution refers to the ability to distinguish changes in a map across different spatial locations, while temporal resolution describes the ability to distinguish changes in activity at a single location over time. Both spatial and temporal resolution are determined by the sampling rates achievable by modern MRI scanners. Tremendous improvements in both spatial and temporal resolution of fMRI have been achieved in the past decade due to advances in scanner hardware. However, despite these technological advances, the ultimate limitation upon the functional resolution of fMRI is the spatial and temporal concordance of the BOLD signal with underlying neuronal activity. In this chapter, we will consider both technological and physiological limitations upon the spatial and temporal properties of fMRI.

Content of chapter 8:
At the beginning of the chapter there's a coloured box explaining all the fMRI terms used in the remainder of the book (as well as this chapter). The rest of the chapter talks about interesting or important experiments that have been done with fMRI. The "badly written paper" (see 'Writing style') was also mentioned and explained in two sentences :P

Writing style:
I started reading this chapter just after having tried to read a very badly written scientific paper on a similar subject from 1985 ('tried', because I read half of it and then started skipping parts and then just gave up - yesterday I read a paper from 1881 that was better readable!), so it was a relief to read something that actually had sentences following other sentences and making sense. In this chapter, a lot of terms were used. In the sideline, most of them are explained - but some weren't, like "BOLD signal" (though it was described on the 6th page of this chapter, even though it had been used since page 1). Starting in chapter 8 might not be such a good idea for this book, I think. I kept wanting to read "voxel" as "vowel" though... Haven't come across the word often enough probably :P
It is not written in a way that reads very fast, but the writing style is okay.

For my exam probably... I'm not interested in reading the other chapters though.

Mar 1, 2012, 1:37pm Top

Title: Attention (Studies in Cognition)
Author: Harold Pashler
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 416 (I read about 62 pages)
Year published: original 1998, my edition 1998
Language: English
ISBN number: 978-0863778131
Reason for reading: For class we had to read the first chapter of this book, which is written by Jeremy M. Wolfe. My review will only be about the first chapter.

Book description (from Amazon):
This collection of essays, intended as a text for students, examines the different facets of research into attention. The book is divided into two sections: one deals with psychological research into such areas as visual search, dual-task interference and attentional bottleneck; the other deals with approaches to neural-network modelling and the effects of brain damage on attention.

First paragraph of chapter one, "Visual Search":
Loosely following William James, we can assert that everyone knows what visual search tasks are because everyone does them all the time. Visual search tasks are those tasks where one looks for something. This chapter will concentrate on search tasks where the object is visible in the current field of view. Real world examples include search for tumors or other critical information in x-rays, search for the right piece of a jigsaw puzzle, or search for the correct key on the keyboard when you are still in the "hunt and peck" stage of typing. Other searches involve eye movements, a topic covered in Hoffman's chapter in this volume.

Content of chapter 1:
The chapter talks about what visual search is and the kind of experiments that have been done on the topic: research on the basic features of a target like colour, orientation, curvature, 'vernier offset' (which is something with vertical lines, but not explained), size, spatial frequency and scale, motion, shape, 'pictorial depth cues' (like shadows), stereoscopic depth and gloss (surface glossy or matte). Then the author talks about theories about these basic features of objects. It doesn't talk about visual search in the real world, though it notes that there hasn't been done any research about that yet (which was in 1998).
I think it didn't explain everything very well. The structure of the text was a bit... lost, even though it had subheadings for each topic listed in the previous paragraph.

Writing style:
Easy reading, not really a problem to read with a lot of distractions around you. Though a few terms weren't explained - maybe standard knowledge for psychologists, but I'm not one :P I don't think it really was a problem though.

For my exam probably...

Mar 4, 2012, 4:25pm Top

Title: Japan: From prehistory to modern times
Author: John Whitney Hall
Series: No, but this publisher (Charles E. Tuttle Co.) has a lot of other books on Japan published as well.
Format: paperback
Pages: 397
Year published: original 1968, my edition 1976
Language: English, original German ("Das Japanische Kaiserreich")
ISBN number: 0221-000276-4615
Reason for reading: I found it at a flea market in Utrecht and I didn't really have a good comprehensive book on Japanese history. I actually started this at the end of 2007/beginning of 2008, when I read most of the book, but recently I found I hadn't finished it yet ^^; I stopped somewhere in the Tokugawa era.

Back cover text:
The phenomenon of Japan's rise as a world power, and particularly the dramatic events of the mid-twentieth century that saw Japan at war with the Allied Powers; the first target of nuclear bombardment; occupied for the first time in its history by a foreign power; and finally achieving recovery with a speed and vigor that surprised all the world - all are seen here in the light of Japan's historical growth.
This volume traces the principal threads of Japan's political and cultural life from early times to the present, emphasizing political and social institutions as they relate to Japan's development as a nation. This development extends over more than two thousand years, during most of which time the Japanese people were relatively isolated from the main centers of world civilization but nevertheless were growing steadily in numbers and in national capacity to become, in modern times, the third largest industrial nation in the world.
Japan: From Prehistory to Modern Times brings the full resources of modern historical scholarship to bear upon its subject, thus creating a fully balanced and authorative picture. The book is profusely illustrated with maps and photographs which elucidate and complement the text.

First paragraph of chapter 1: "Introduction: Japan's Historical Position":
When in the middle of the nineteenth century European and American travelers pressed their attention upon the isolated islands of japan, they little imagined that within a century the mysterious "Land of the Mikado" would have transformed itself into one of the leading nations of the modern world. In the 1850's, Japan was, in the eyes of the West, a little-known and backward country that had insisted on secluding itself from foreign view for over two centuries - the farthest removed of the lands of the Far East. Yet today Japan stands third among the industrial nations of the world and bears the memory of a violent attempt at military expansion that made its cities the first targets of atomic warfare.

The book only goes up till somewhere in the 1960s - though someone had inserted a few newspaper articles from a Dutch newspaper from 1980 about Japan. In the middle of the book are photo pages (the maps are inbetween the text), with among them some photos of a nuclear reactor (Tokai Power Plant). There wasn't really anything in the text about that though, maybe because it had been all over the news around the time this book was published? There's not a lot on the 1960s, probably because of the time period the book was written/published and analyzing history when you're in it yourself is harder. Still, because of that picture I had expected a bit more on the Japanese nuclear program. Which is probably also influenced by recent events and the way the Japanese government managed it... (>.>) Reading this book, Japanese government is good at mismanaging things (not always though). I really wonder what things historians will write about the current time period. I keep thinking they'll write "...and they were all stupid people who destroyed the world they lived in, nowadays we're much more advanced and smarter than they were."
When I started reading, I thought I'd find the early history most interesting to read. It was very interesting, but I was a bit surprised to find the 19th and especially 20th century very interesting to read about as well. The reason was that the author mentioned both Japanese explanations and 'foreign' explanations for the actions of the Japanese. Keeping in mind fiction stories and biographies I've read of these time periods, I thought this book explained everything quite well.
For each time period, the author talked about political events, cultural events (for example literature), social events/situations (class system, businesses) and sometimes international events as well (especially later on).
There was nothing on Indonesia though, except a mention that the Indonesian islands had come into Japanese possession. For that, you will have to read other books (there are enough), but I thought that was something that should have been in the book as well. A reason why it might not have been added, is because the publisher is located in Japan and it's not something the Japanese like to remember? Though my host family in Japan knew about it, they said that might be because they were teachers at schools and as a result had read a lot about history, and not everyone in Japan knew about what happened with Japan/Indonesia during WW2.

Writing style:
I think most parts of this book actually read more like a fiction book than a non-fiction book... There was a lot of suspense in the text! I thought it was written in an engaging way, even though at some times it could be quite "dry"... Then I put away the book for a while and continued later.
What I liked was that the author used the romanization system of Japanese I'm used to (Hepburn, instead of the Nihon-/Kunrei-shiki used in most linguistics books about Japanese...) and that he also wrote down a lot of Japanese words for political terms and other things. You can almost guess the kanji for them, as he also puts the English translation next to the words (very useful combination). It made it easier to connect the things he was talking about to texts I've read in Japanese about history. There is a word list at the back of Japanese words the author uses, so if you forget one you can look it up (though I only noticed that word list when I had almost finished the book...).

It's certainly worth re-reading. I'm planning on re-reading it! It's also a book I would recommend to everyone who wants to read a comprehensive history of Japan (up till the mid-20th-century).

Mar 7, 2012, 6:05pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Servants of Ark #1 - The First Named
Author: Jonathan Wylie
Series: Yes, "Servants of Ark" book 1.
Format: paperback
Pages: 281
Year published: original 1987, my edition 1987
Language: English (original)
ISBN number: 0553269534
Reason for reading: The trilogy was added as a surprise when I mooched (though Bookmooch) a box full of books from someone in America.

Back cover text:
An evil magic has gripped the kingdom of Ark. A powerful warlord and a violet-eyes enchantress named Amarino have usurped the rightful rule of King Ather and enslaved the people to an ancient power.
Led to safety deep in the woods beyond the capital, the three young princes of Ark plot their vengeance in the hideaway of the court wizard. Here, in an ancient tome of magic, they discover a prophecy that foretells how only one of them will be strong enough to avenge their father's death and regain the throne of Ark.
Now, a young magician's apprentice, his telepathic cat and a 200-year-old wizard set out on an impossible quest - to lead the exiles to victory against an all-powerful enemy and lift the dark enchantment from the land.

First paragraph of the prologue:
Darkness came early the night of the storm. Long before the sun sank below the western sea it disappeared behind a towering wall of purple clouds.
"A wizard's sky," the people of the islands muttered as they bolted shutters, though none alive then was old enough to remember the wizards' wars that had torn the sky and changed the face of the land. Surely now after so many years of peace the powers of magic had been diverted to more confortable ends or perhaps, as some said, real magic was no more, the wizards' spells atrophied by ease and plenty, now reduced to mere showground tricks.

At first I thought the story would be full of fantasy cliches, but that really wasn't the case! It did remind me a bit of the setting from "A song of Ice and Fire" but then on islands... I only read the first book of that series though. The island the main story took place on had one large city with a fight at the beginning and surrounded by forest and mountains. That was probably the reason for me thinking it was similar. It was not much a political fantasy though. Bit of magic, a bit of being reminded of "The Last Unicorn" (but no unicorns), bit of travelling... At first I thought the characters weren't that interesting, but I did enjoy the story. Halfway through I really started to like the characters (at least some of them) and I enoyed the book more. The ending was really interesting! It is possible to read this as a stand-alone book, but I think that if you liked the story, you'd want to read the second book too.

Writing style:
I thought the author was inconsisted in the kind of names he used. From the same country: Mark, Ferragamo, Eric, Ather, Durc, Zunic, Jani, Koria, Brandel, Derwent, Birn, Richard, Shill... From another country: Fontaine, Rehan, Pabalan, Adesina, Ansar, Laurent, Moroski, Fluke. Uhm, where's the pattern? I see English and French names, as well as 'other'. It makes no sense linguistically, I think. They all speak the same language but with accents.

It was a first edition, so I did spot some mistakes ("don't" and "do" switched around in successive sentences, some telepathic speech not in italics while they should be).

The writing style of the text was nice. It directed my attention to the text itself as well, but it was relaxing to read actually.

I'm first going to read the other two books first. At the moment, I don't think this will be a "re-read" series though.

Edited: Mar 10, 2012, 12:01pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The ruins of Gorlan
Author: John Flanagan
Series: Ranger's Apprentice #1
Format: paperback
Pages: 280
Year published: original 2004, my edition 2007
Language: English (original English)
ISBN number: 9780440867388
Reason for reading: A friend had recommended this series to me a while ago and it was a very popular series in the bookstore (= children's bookstore where I worked), so when I got this book for free I was very interested in reading it. Plus, the cover is really pretty (my book had this cover: link 1/link 2, which is also the cover of the Dutch editions).

Back cover text:
Will is small for his age, but fast and quick-witted. All his life, he has dreamed of becoming a great knight like the father he never knew, so he is devastated when he is rejected by Casle Redmont's Battleschool. Instead he is apprenticed to Halt, the mysterious Ranger whose uncanny ability to move unseen is thought to be the result of black magic. Reluctantly, Will learns to use a Ranger's secret weapons: a bow and arrow, a mottled cloak and a stubborn little pony. It may not be the sword and battlehorse he longs for, but when Will and Halt set out on a desperate mission to prevent the assassination of the King, Will finds that a Ranger's weapons are not so useless after all..

First paragraph of the prologue:
Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, former Baron of Gorlan in the Kingdom of Araluen, looked out over his bleak, rainswept domain and, for perhaps the thousandth time, cursed.
This was all that was left to him now - a jumble of rugged granite cliffs, tumbled boulders and icy mountains. Of sheer gorges and steep narrow passes. Of gravel and rock, with never a tree or a sign of green to break the monotony.

It was actually quite similar to what I had expected, that Will would become the Ranger's apprentice (...see series title). Though I had wrongly predicted who Will's father was :P For the rest, I liked the non-main characters better (I thought everyone was more interesting than Will, even the non-human characters (>.>)). The main evil guy is very cliche actually (thought-controlling evil creatures and sending them off to kill people), but as it's a series for children I didn't really expect a lot more.

Writing style:
Very easy reading - clearly a children's book, though. In the bookstore, this series was in the bookcase for 11 to 13 year olds. I do like the way Flanagan switched between descriptions and dialogues. Not too much of either.
Only the "evil guys" have 'fantasy' names, everyone else has plain English names.

I won't be re-reading this book, but I do want to read the rest of the series. The story is interesting, as are all the characters except Will (though maybe he will get more interesting?). I think borrowing them from the library is the best idea :P It's a fun book to read once, I think, but a bit too predictable to be re-read material for me. Consequently, I won't be keeping the copy I got.

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 12:57pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)
Originally posted at http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/68521.html

Title: CLOVER 1
Author: CLAMP
Series: "CLOVER", consisting of 4 volumes.
Format: paperback
Pages: 124
Year published: original 1997, my edition 1997
Language: Japanese (= original language)
ISBN number: 4063400018
Reason for reading: I recently got the 4th book, which is the last one, so I decided to read the entire series now. I had already read book 1, so this is a re-read, but not yet the other three books.

Back cover text:
If you find a four-leaf clover,
It will bring happiness;
don't tell Anyone
Where its white flower
Or how many leaflets from its stem extend.
The four-leaved clover.
I only want your happiness, knowing
I can never be yours to share it.

First paragraph:

In the story, humans are "technologically enhanced", they have technology implanted so their hands can change into weapons, for example. Kazuhiko gets an assignment from the "old people" who lead the country (who also have technology implanted) to find a girl in a building and bring her to somewhere (she knows where). This girl is called Suu and she has mechanical wings which can appear and disappear. She wants to go to "faery park" (妖精遊園地), but while trying to get there, their transport gets intercepted by the enemy and the rest of the book mostly consists of being chased by the army and a (short) fight between Kazuhiko and their leader. The "enemy army" doesn't have a lot of technology enhancements, it looks like. But they still have normal weapons.

There's a song which plays a main theme in the story. The song's text is everywhere inbetween the story. The dust cover has the English version on the back, the book's real back cover has the Japanese version and inside there's also only the Japanese version.

The story is a bit slow, but as this is the first in four volumes, I think it's all just starting up.

Writing style:
All kanji have furigana, so it's very easy to read. As for word-usage, more "military" words than I'm used to :P The song is almost entirely in hiragana.

Pretty CLAMP art! And it's very clearly drawn with not a lot of lines. They also used a lot of black/white contrast, there are hardly any greytones or "patterns".

Yes, this is a re-read :)

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 12:57pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: CLOVER #2
Author: CLAMP
Series: "CLOVER", consisting of four books.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1
Format: paperback
Pages: 124
Year published: original 1997, my edition 1997
Language: Japanese (= original language)
ISBN number: 4063400026
Reason for reading: I am currently reading the entire series and I just read book 1... :P

Back cover text:
(Japanese version of the text on the back of volume 1, see review of book 1 for the English version)

First paragraph:

It is now known that Suu is the four-leaf clover. We are also told who the three-leaf clover is (this character was already in book 1) and it's explained what "Clovers" are: children who can use magic. Ten years ago, the Clover Leaf Project started and children who could use magic were sought. There were 3 Clovers at the beginning, now only 3 and 4 are left.
In the armies there are also people who can use magic (wizards, sorcerers). The Clovers are called "magic users" (魔法使い).
Suu explains to Kazuhiko why she wanted to go to Faerypark so much, and why the song is so important.

Writing style:
Very easy reading. Most of the book was about the song en an explanation of the Clovers.

Still pretty! The song lyrics inbetween and the black/white colouring give the book a very 'quiet' atmosphere, while actually the country is a mess because of the war.

In a series re-read.

Edited: Mar 11, 2012, 12:56pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: CLOVER #3
Author: CLAMP
Series: CLOVER, consisting of 4 books.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1, book 2.
Format: paperback
Pages: 124
Year published: original 1998, my edition 1998
Language: Japanese (= original language)
ISBN number: 4063400182
Reason for reading: I'm reading the series and I just read book 2...

Back cover text:
If you find a four-leaf clover.
It will bring happiness.
But don't tell
Where you found
The four-leaf clover,
Or how many leaflets were on
The four-leaf clover.
How I wish to make you happy,
Though I won't be able to see you.

First paragraph:

The third Clover is revealed... I guessed correctly when reading volume 2 :P
The story in this volume takes place before volume 1 - it talks about Kazuhiko and his relationship to Oruha, as well as how Suu "met" Oruha and how the "main theme" song came into existence. Reading this, I hope that in volume 4 there will be some more about the Clover Leaf Project - and maybe how this world came to be (with all those "technology-implanted humans"), but I doubt that.
It is also made clear that Suu really had a lonely life.

Writing style:
Also, simple to read XD

Still pretty. The atmosphere is expressed really well.

In a series re-read, but I think it's possible to read this one before book 1.

Mar 11, 2012, 2:05pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story, but there are some as this is the last book - nothing too important, I think)

Title: CLOVER #4
Author: CLAMP
Series: CLOVER, consisting of 4 books.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1, book 2, book 3.
Format: paperback
Pages: 124
Year published: original 1999, my edition 1999
Language: Japanese (= original language)
ISBN number: 4063400344
Reason for reading: I'm reading the series :) And this is the last book.

Back cover text:
If we find a four-leaf clover,
You'll have found happiness.
But it will
Never be found,
Since happiness rests inside
That secret cage.
No one can own
The four-leaf clover.
But then what of
The three-leaf clover?

First paragraph:

"Three-leaf clover" was actually three people... One is dead, one is in the 'bird cage' (research lab), one went outside. There also was a "Two-leaf clover", of course, each one stronger than the previous one(s).
On Wikipedia it says that the author wanted two more books to conclude the story. It's... a quiet ending. Clovers 1, 2 and 3 get happy, in a way, but what about Suu? I think that book 2 can be a conclusion to the series, but maybe it does fit the story that it doesn't really have a conclusive ending.

Writing style:
No real additions to my comments on the previous books. Still easy to read.

...and still very nice black/white art.

On a series re-read, yes. I think it's also possible to read 3+4 before 1+2.

Mar 11, 2012, 4:41pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De Hopeloze Heks redt de school (The Worst Witch saves the day)
Author: Jill Murphy
Series: Yes, "De Hopeloze Heks / The Worst Witch" book 5.
Format: hardcover
Pages: 170
Year published: original 2005, my edition 2006
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9051595859
Reason for reading: I've read the first four books and I really enjoyed those!

Back cover text:
No back cover text, but Amazon has a summary:
Mildred is starting her third year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches with high hopes of improving her klutzy record. But that’s before a curling-iron catastrophe leads her to experiment with a hair-growing potion with hair-raising results. And it’s before she raises the ire of Miss Granite, the odd new teacher who doesn’t seem to act like a teacher at all. Could she be an imposter? And is there anything in Mildred’s bag of tricks that can save the school if her hunch is right?
In Dutch, Mildred = Merel and Miss Granite = Heks Graniet. The Dutch names in the book are the same ones as used in the Dutch tv series dub, so if you watched that you won't get confused by English names :P (though... not really a problem, I think)

First paragraph of chapter 1:
Het was tropisch warm toen de leerlingen van de Kakelacademie voor Heksen kwamen aanvliegen op de eerste dag van het wintersemester. Alleen de leerlingen van Klas Een kwamen te voet, omdat ze nog niet konden vliegen. Alle andere leerlingen, en uiteraard ook de leraressen, vlogen op hun bezems over de hoge stenen muur, als een troep zwarte kraaien. Het was een prachtig gezicht.

Really, really fun!
The first half of the book is about the story with Merel's hair - first an accident happens so Merel's hair becomes really short, then (expectedly) she tries a hair-growing potion. I loved this story :D
The second half of the book was about who Miss Granite (Heks Graniet) actually was. This was more of a mystery story.

Writing style:
It's meant for children aged 7-9 (according to the bookstore's bookcases), but it's not that it's "too simple". I like the Dutch translation, it flows quite well and it's not clear from the text that it has been translated from English. When names appeared in the illustrations, they also changed them to the Dutch names (which I think is good, looking at the target age group who is not yet concerned with translation, I think :P).

I really like the drawing style. The illustrations don't add to the story story-wise, but they illustrate scenes from the story itself. The illlustrations are quite detailed with a lot of greytones (drawn using many lines, not like using the paint-bucket).

Yes!! I think it would also be really suited for reading aloud.
When I come across the English versions, I'd like to read those too, but the Dutch editions are really pretty XD Hardcover with a soft cover with silver text and image (silhouette of the illustrations on the English editions I saw on Amazon).

Edited: Mar 13, 2012, 5:36pm Top

> 40: I recently finished the last book of Ranger's Apprentice, yes borrowing from the library is best, I did.
Only problem is get them, as they are very popular, but I managed eventually ;-)

Mar 13, 2012, 6:48pm Top

@46: I'm going to wait a bit more to borrow them from the library, as I first want to read some more of the books on my shelf (so I can make space), so maybe they'll be a bit less-often-borrowed by then?

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The center of the circle (link below in "Series" = touchstone, it didn't work with the title)
Author: Jonathan Wylie
Series: Servants of Ark #2
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1
Format: paperback
Pages: 281
Year published: original 1988, my edition 1988
Language: English (= original language)
ISBN number: 0553270567
Reason for reading: I enjoyed book 1 and I wanted to know how it continued.

Back cover text:
An evil wind blows across the Kingdom of Ark. A powerful sorcerer named Alzedo has rallied the forces of darkness and threatens to unleash a whirlpool of destruction upon the land. Only a conclave of the most powerful wizards can thwart his plans - but King Mark is powerless to convince his people of the coming danger. As a murderous fog paralyzes the island, an ancient prophecy decrees that the fate of the kingdom will depend on Mark's son, the young prince Luke. Following in his father's footsteps, Luke must go to the center of the circle of evil - to rescue his people from a dark enchantment and challenge the greatest enemy Ark has ever known.

First paragraph of the prologue:
The dolphins thought it was very odd. They had always known that Csonka was not quite like the rest of them, but he had a useful knack of finding food and led their joyful games, so they followed him. However, this latest whim was quite beyond their comprehension. The floating boxes were angular, unnatural. They were not food. Yet the dolphins sensed that there was life in them and this made them strangely uneasy.

I thought the characters in this story were much more interesting than in the first book. The main characters are Luke (son of Mark and Fontaine), Julia (from another island), some other people from her island, and the daughter of Richard (a character from the previous book as well). They had to battle evil magic again this time, but it was quite different from the way they fought in the previous book. Good thing things are not repeating themselves! The story was very interesting as well. This time I thought both characters and story were equally interesting, maybe the characters were more interesting than the story. Not everything was explained, though things were hinted at, which I thought very fitting because it was about magic events and it explained enough that I was happy with it.
There was more about the "familiars" in this book (animals people with magic bond with and can talk to telepathically) which was also plot-relevant (it was already plot-relevant in book 1), which I also think is good, because you shouldn't have such things if it's unimportant to your story :P

Writing style:
Relaxed, very easy reading. Some typos as well, but it seems to be a first edition.

I don't think I'm going to re-read this book, but I'm happy I've read it as it was a very enjoyable experience. Next up I'm going to read the third (and final) book of this trilogy.

Mar 17, 2012, 12:37pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)
This review was originally posted at http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/70568.html

Title: De hopeloze heks weet het beter! (The Worst Witch to the rescue)
Author: Jill Murphy
Series: De Hopeloze Heks / The Worst Witch
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): De Hopeloze Heks #5 - De hopeloze heks redt de school (Dutch) by Jill Murphy
Format: hardcover
Pages: 176
Year published: original 2005, my edition 2008
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9789089411983
Reason for reading: I enjoyed the first five books in the series a lot :D

Back cover text:
No back cover text, but Amazon has a description:
Mildred Hubble has always been the worst witch at Miss Cackle's Academy, but she just knows this term will be different. She's done the best holiday project ever and she's sure that her form teacher, the fearsome Miss Hardbroom, will be impressed. Even her arch-enemy, Ethel Hallow, is being friendly to her! But is it all too good to be true - will disaster strike again for the Worst Witch?
Mildred Hubble = Merel Hobbel
Miss Hardbroom = Heks Hakblok
Ethel Hallow = Edith Huigel

First paragraph:
Het waaide flink op de eerste dag van het zomersemester van de Kakelacademie voor Heksen, maar het beloofde een prachtige dag te worden.
De zon was nog maar net opgekomen toen een eenzaam figuurtje op een bezemsteel aan de hemel verscheen. Ze zigzagde behendig tussen de vroege vogels door en vloog zo zelfverzekerd dat ze vanuit de verte zelf een vogel leek.
Het was Edith Huigel, de beste leerling van de Kakelacademie.

There was one story spanning the entire book, which was VERY interesting, I thought. Of course it is to be expected everything will end well for Merel, but I still wanted to know how everything would turn out. It had a lot to do with animals :) And I really like the characters in this series.

Writing style:
Simple, so it reads very quickly. I think the Dutch translation is well done (which is one of the reasons I'm buying the Dutch editions instead of the English ones).

The drawings are really pretty! I like the drawing style very much.

Yes, certainly :D I hope more books will be published as well.

Mar 18, 2012, 3:46pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The mage-born child (on Librarything)
Author: Jonathan Wylie
Series: Yes, "Servants of Ark" book 3
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): Servants of Ark #1 - The First Named by Jonathan Wylie, Servants of Ark #2 - The center of the circle by Jonathan Wylie
Format: paperback
Pages: 277
Year published: original 1988, my edition 1988
Language: English (=original language)
ISBN number: 0553272705
Reason for reading: I liked the first two books so I wanted to read the last part of the trilogy as well.

Back cover text:
The evil wizard Alzedo has risen again and this time he has unleashed the full terror of his awesome powers. Haunted by strange dreams, the young wizard Yve and her invisible dragon journey from a far-off land to help the beleagured King Mark and his son Luke prepare for the final battle. But first Yve must travel to an enchanted cavern deep in the Windchill Mountains to enlist the aid of a centuries-old hermit and a mysterious child. Only then can the Servants of Ark hope to fulfill the ancient prophecy - and shatter the power of the evil Sorcerer once and for all!

First paragraph of the prologue:
The stones were silent, watching. At the center of their ancient circle stoof a man - or what had once been a man.
He too was quiet, but invisible currents of arcane power swirled about him, making his silver and black cape billow and snap about massive shoulders. Huge fists were clenched at his sides; arm muscles twitched and knotted.

Very good ending! The characters playing a lead role in this book were also introduced in the previous books, but now I got to know more about them. I thought it was very interesting, as you do think that there will be another evil to fight, as the fight from the previous books had not really been concluded, but the way it was done was very unexpected (in a good way).
I really liked the dragon and the idea with 'two worlds', which was also a crucial plot point.
Though characters died - I still think the characters were interesting, but the story was more interesting... It's not as if the death of those characters really affected me - the story was more interesting, or there were too many characters so the author couldn't focus on making you care for specific people. Maybe that was not what he wanted though. The story seemed most important and that could be told through the characters.

Writing style:
The author described things very well, everything was easy to imagine.

I'm not going to re-read the series, but I'm very glad I've read it! It was really enjoyable and not "standard fantasy". The solutions in-story are original and unexpected, I think, especially in this third book.

Mar 20, 2012, 4:25pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Arisa #1
Author: Natsumi Ando
Series: Yes, "Arisa" manga series.
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 201
Year published: original 2009, my edition 2010
Language: English (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9780345522412
Reason for reading: My sister wanted to order book 2 and 3, so I asked about the first book. I've already read some "Kitchen Princess" volumes by the same author, which I liked a lot, so I wanted to read this book too.

Back cover text:
Tsubasa thinks that her pretty and popular twin sister, Arisa, has the perfect life. Everyone at school loves Arisa - unlike the hot-tempered Tsubasa, whose nickname is "the Demon Princess." But when Arisa attempts suicide, Tsubasa learns that her seemingly perfect sister has been keeping some dark secrets. Now Tsubasa is going undercover at school - disguised as Arisa - in search of the truth. But will Arisa's secrets shatter Tsubasa's life, too?

First page:
Don't forget me even when we're apart, okay?

I won't... let's write letters every day.

Secret letters... just between you and me.

I think the back cover text doesn't make it clear that Arisa and Tsubasa are at different schools - their parents are divorced and they write eachother letters, but don't meet very often. Until they decide to meet and Tsubasa goes to Arisa's school one day.
The story is really interesting - it is a mystery story and also very modern, looking at the cellphones (not like when you read old manga and they have to find a payphone because no-one has a cell-phone). The cellphones do play quite a large role in the story...

Writing style:
As they had a preview chapter from the next volume at the end (continuing the English story), I could compare the English translations with the Japanese text (and now I can't wait for the next volume to arrive either XD). It was very similar - I think the translation is good. The English sentences flow well too.

Pretty!!! I think Natsumi Ando really draws the characters' expressions well. They're also easily distinguishable from eachother, which is quite important. She uses a lot of greytones to colour, which also add a lot of atmosphere to the drawings.

Yes!! But I first want to read the other books too... *waits for sister's order to arrive*
I do like that this publisher (Del Rey) adds the next chapter in Japanese to the end of the volume. Then I can already read a bit what will happen next and most of the time, that extra chapter is a better ending of the volume (not so suspense-full... but of course that's why they end a volume with a suspense-full chapter, so people will buy the next one)!

Mar 21, 2012, 5:13am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Night head genesis #1
Author: Story by George Iida, manga by You Higuri
Series: Night head genesis
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 200
Year published: original 2007, my edition 2009
Language: English (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9780345516251
Reason for reading: My sister got this one and gave it to me to read as well XD

Back cover text:
The world is a lonely place for Naoto and Naoya, brother with amazing psychic powers that set them apart from humanity. Their parents cast them out - and had them imprisoned in an exploitative research center. But after they make a daring escape from the institution, Naoya has a psychic vision of an even greater threat: a deadly plague that threatens the entire world!

First paragraph:
The one with the precious power...
old man Misaki...
has journeyed from this world...
The force field is gone now.
the two brothers...
will escape...

The story was interesting, but I thought some things were missing. Judging from the text at the back of the volume, it sounds like it's a manga made from an anime series and things were left out of the manga. What I mostly missed was more about the research center. It looked like the researchers were only hiding from Naota's destructive powers and having meetings ^^; When the brothers were outside, the story was a bit more complete, though why they were calling back to the research center was not very clear (yes, for explanation, which was probably the reason, but if they escaped from there...).
An enemy is introduced at the very end, though the story itself in this volume is complete.

Writing style:
Mostly short sentences, but that could also be because otherwise it wouldn't fit in the text balloons...
In Japanese, there's no furigana next to the kanji (the rating on this English volume is 16+, probably because of the "mankind will be destroyed" thing).

Greytones mostly used for backgrounds and clothing. Naota and Naoya are distuinguishable by their hair colour, which is very useful XD
The drawings are okay - only the face outlines sometimes look odd, but for the most part the anatomy is really okay.

Not really. It was interesting to read, but the preview of the next volume also didn't make me very interested in the next book. It was nice that this can be read as a sort-of stand-alone manga.

Mar 24, 2012, 8:45am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The story of Saiunkoku #5
Author: Story by Sai Yukino, art by Kairi Yura
Series: The story of Saiunkoku (彩雲国物語) book 5/14
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: no page numbers, thickness = 1.3 cm
Year published: original 2011, my edition 2011
Language: English (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9781421538426
Reason for reading: I liked the soundtrack (I discovered that because Tainaka Sachi apparently sang a song for the anime series) and I wanted to know a bit more about the story. A friend had the manga so yesterday I started reading the series :D

Back cover text:
Shurei Hong, destitute but of noble birth, has always dreamed of working as a civil servant in the imperial court of Saiunkoku, but women are barred from holding office. The emperor Ryuki, however, refuses to take command, leaving everything to his advisors. Shurei is asked to become a consort to the emperor to persuade the ne'er-do-well ruler to govern.

Shurei falls ill and a group of indulgent yet inept men try to tend her. But while her family and the ministers from the court debate how to nurse her back to health, the emperor seizes the chance to sneak into her bedchamber for a visit.

Inside 'back cover text' (small spoilers for volume 4):
When Ryuki, the young emperor of Saiunkoku, proclaimed that women shall be permitted to take the Imperial Civil Exam, the way was opened for Shurei to fulfill her long-cherished wish to become a civil servant. Under the tutelage of Koyu, Shurei has begun an extremely stringent study regimen in anticipation of the exam. However, on a winter's day not long before the start of exam season, Shurei finds herself chasing after a naughty student in her class and winds up falling into an icy lake! Soon after, when word spreads that Shurei is "down and out with a cold," a stream of anxious male visitors come to visit her: Shuei, Koyu, Ryuki and even Reishin! But when these clashing personalities come together, a simple bedside visit ends up becoming more like a battle...!

First page text:
It was the season when every breath curled like clouds of white smoke, and the icy wind nipped at reddening cheeks...
This happened shortly after the New Year.
Seiran: "It's probably a cold. Leaping into a river in the dead of winter... We should be thankful your heart didn't stop in the freezing water."
Shurei: "I slipped... Ryushin was being naughty in class today... I was chasing him along the bank when I... lost my footing and..."

The first paragraph of the back cover text is actually the main story starting in the first volume. The second paragraph is the beginning of this volume. The 'inside back cover text' is a better summary, I think.
Shurei does recover in this volume and after that the story gets more interesting. We meet more characters and also get to know more things about characters we already know.
The story in each volume up till now has an ending that does not really make you (well, me XD) very anxious to read the next volume, because they don't really end on a cliffhanger, but still I want to read the next volumes. There are also side stories at the end of the volumes, which are really nice. Baby Shurei in this one :D
The manga did make me think of Fushigi Yuugi (both stories take place in a country with Ancient-Chinese-like clothing, though Fushigi Yuugi has magic and is a go-into-a-book story and Saiunkoku is about a fictional country, so the genre is also "fantasy") and Kirakirakaoru (a series taking place in Heian Japan, which does have a bit of magic but is mostly realistic too, but has not been translated into English as far as I know).
It's not a very fast-moving story, but it's nice to read - more like reading a novel I think.

Writing style:
Actually a lot of text and elaborate sentences. I think this is because the manga has been made from the novel and they probably used a lot of similar sentences. The text balloons are still small, but they do fit a lot of text into them, though the font size isn't very small.

Pretty!! Almost all the men are drawn with very long hair, wearing it loose most of the time, and the women also have very long hair but are mostly wearing it up.
Normal use of greytones.
The artist can really draw all the expressions well, it's funny :)
She draws the eyes of men and women and children all differently. Probably a good way to tell them apart, but it's really easy anyway as she doesn't draw the men very feminine.


Mar 24, 2012, 1:06pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Kilala Princess #3 (on Amazon)
Author: Story by Rika Tanaka, art by Nao Kodaka
Series: Kilala Princess (きららプリンセス) 3/5. In the English editions, each book is split into two, so it has 10 thin volumes. So this would be the English volumes 5 and 6.
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 192
Year published: original 2006, my edition 2009
Language: German (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9783770467426
Reason for reading: I had come across book 1 and 2 when I was in Japan in 2006. I really liked them, but I didn't manage to get to read the rest when they were published. A friend owned the series in German and as they weren't split like the English editions (which is stupid, I think), I borrowed the rest from her :)

Inside 'Back cover text' (story so far):
Kilala liebt Disney's Prinzessinnen. Ihr Leben verändert sich drastisch, als sie auf Rei trifft und vom Diadem in Schneewittchens Welt besiegen sie das Böse und erhalten einen roten Rubin für jenes Diadem, das ihnen den Weg weist. Doch als sie in Kilalas Welt zurückkehren wird es gestohlen.
Auf der Jagd nach dem Diadem schluckt das Meer Kilala und sie trifft auf Arielle, die Meerjungfrau. Arielle rettet nicht nur Kilala und Rei vor der bösen Hexe, sondern schenkt ihnen einen zweiten Edelstein, einen Aquamarin.
Als Kilalas wieder nach Hause kommt, sind auch ihre Eltern aus dem Wunderland Paradisos zurückgekehrt. Rei hört von den dramatischen Umständen in seinem Reich und bricht auf, um Dort zu retten, was geht. Er verspricht Kilala zurück zu kommen und überlässt ihr das wichtige Diadem...

First page:
Ob ich auch eine Prinzessin werden kann...?!

In the first book Kilala went to Snow White's world, in the second one to Ariel's world. In this book, she goes to Cinderella's world. It was really interesting to see how Kilala was in the movie's story doing things but not really influencing the events of the movie.
There's also quite a bit of the book taking place in Kilala's own world, about half of it I think. She's really growing as a character in each book because of meeting the princesses, which is very nice to see.

Writing style:
Different from reading the Japanese versions, but not a problem :) The German is quite easy and some words I didn't know I could derive from the context.

It's really interesting to see how both the Disney style and the manga style are combined into drawings which look very good. It's not odd to see both drawing styles next to each other. Inbetween chapters are chibi manga-style princess drawings, which are very cute!
Normal use of greytones and not a lot of text :)

Yes! But I'll try to get the Japanese version next time of course, but now I just want to finally read the rest of the story XD I really like the concept.

Mar 24, 2012, 6:01pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Kilala Princess #4 (on Amazon)
Author: Story by Rika Tanaka, art by Nao Kodaka
Series: Kilala Princess (きららプリンセス) 4/5. In the English editions, each book is split into two, so it has 10 thin volumes. So this would be the English volumes 7 and 8.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 3
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 155
Year published: original 2007, my edition 2008
Language: German (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9783770468201
Reason for reading: I want to finish reading the series (^o^)

Inside 'story so far' text:
Kilala liebt Disneys Prinzessinnen. Ihr Leben verändert sich drastisch, als sie auf Rei trifft und vom Diadem geführt in die Welten der Prinzessinnen gelangt. In Schneewittchens Welt besiegen sie das Böse und erhalten einen roten Rubin für das Diadem. Im Reich Arielles am Meeresboden bekämpfen sie die böse Ursula und erhalten einen Aquamarin. Für die Rettung Cinderellas vor der gemeinen Schwiegermutter bekommt Kilala einen Diamanten. Aber auch böse Machte sind an dem Diadem interessiert, weil es unglaubliche Kräfte verleiht. Kilala ist überzeugt, dass die siebte Prinzessin die Welt retten kann, und macht sich auf die Suche nach weiteren Edelsteinen. Welcher Prinzessin begegnet Kilala als nächstes?

First page:
Rei: "Hast du alles, Kilala?"
Kilala: "Ja!"
Seit ich Rei, dem Prinzen und Besitzer des legendären Diadems, begegnet bin...
...hat sich mein Schicksal dramatisch verändert.

Yay, the volume with Belle (^o^). The first world Kilala visits in this book, is Beauty and the Beast. The story in the castle (with the Beast and all the objects still enchanted) is very nice. Lots of things recognizable from the movie, though it's really not taking place in any scene of the movie, just in the long time Belle is in the castle together with Beast.
The next world is the one of Sleeping Beauty (Dornröschen). Very interesting story too! Kilala has to find a gem (Edelstein) in each world and the way she found it in this world was quite original.
At the end there's quite a bit of story in Kilala's own world.

Writing style:
No real comments... just that it's interesting to see all the characters' names in German (to compare them with the names in Dutch/English).

Belle was drawn a bit more manga-style than Aurora, but she still looked Disney-drawing-style-like. Beast was drawn really well! I really like this mix of Disney/manga drawing styles XD


Mar 25, 2012, 6:55am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Kilala Princess #5 (on Amazon)
Author: Story by Rika Tanaka, art by Nao Kodaka
Series: Kilala Princess (きららプリンセス) 5/5. In the English editions, each book is split into two, so it has 10 thin volumes. So this would be the English volumes 9 and 10.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 3, book 4
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 176
Year published: original 2008, my edition 2009
Language: German (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 9783770469802
Reason for reading: The last book of the series (^o^)

Inside text 'story so far':
Kilala liebt Disneys Prinzessinnen. Ihr Leben verändert sich drastisch, als sie auf Rei trifft und vom Diadem geführt in die Welten der Prinzessinnen gelangt. Sie hilft Schneewittchen, sucht mit Arielle nach Rei, holt sich in Cinderellas Welt das Diadem zurück, lernt die Schöne und das Biest kennen und rettet Aurora vor dem Tiefschlaf. Während all dieser Abenteuer erhält sie von den Prinzessinnen Edelsteine für das Diadem. Aber es gibt miese Typen, die hinter den unglaublichen Kräften des Diadems herjagen. Kilala könnte die siebte Prinzessin sein, die die Welt retten wird, doch Valdou treibt sie in die Enge. Kann sie die sechste Prinzessin finden...?!

First page with text:
Kilala: "AAAH...! Uah?! Mubah!"
Jasmin: "Alles in Ordnung?! Das tut mir Leid! Bist du auch nicht verletzt?!"

On the first page they're crashing into Jasmine's and Aladdin's carpet XD
Anyway, so in this last volume they go into Aladdin's world (about half of the book). The Aladdin storyline is interesting - it's half inbetween the movie's events, but they're also taking care not to change the movie's storyline (in-story!), which results in quite funny situations.
The last half takes place in their own world. The ending is a bit predictable when you've read the other volumes, but there also are unpredictable elements in the ending, so it was really nice to read as it wasn't entirely predictable.
I think it was a good ending to the series :)

Writing style:
I keep being surprised by how similar Dutch and German actually are - but it does make it easier to read XD (though if I hadn't learned word lists in high school I would be more confused, I think). I was also trying to derive the Japanese sentences while reading sometimes, but I think the German translations are very nice to read.

The characters from Aladdin were drawn almost exactly like in the movie. Very nice!

Yes, certainly!!

Mar 25, 2012, 5:31pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: 電影少女 Video Girl Ai volume 7 再現 (on Librarything)
Author: Katsura Masakazu
Series: 電影少女 (Video Girl Ai)
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1, book 2
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 208
Year published: original 1991, my edition 1991
Language: Japanese (= original language)
ISBN number: 4088718070
Reason for reading: I've already read book 1-6 and I want to continue reading the series.

Back cover text:
No back cover text.

First page:

ヨータには ないしょだけど
オレは かなりHAPPYだ!




I don't think you should start reading the series with this book, but anyway... The story is very serious in this volume. It is clear the characters grew a lot compared with the first volumes, because of what they experienced in the volumes inbetween.
This book is about the relationships between Takashi, Moemi and Youta. The relationship between Takashi and Moemi is... not what you'd expect of a normal relationship. Takashi doesn't seem to love Moemi, while she does love Takashi. Youta finds it quite difficult to see his friends like this.
Ai gets hope because of something the "Video Girl creator" says... but repeating that here would be a spoiler :P Because of that she gets hope for her relation with Youta again, though, but then the stuff with Takashi and Moemi happens... (everything on the first page above was said by Ai).
The issue of rape is also addressed (in a serious way) and the effects of it.

Writing style:
Lots of "describing" blocks of text in this volume, about events (like "Youta interpreted it like this..." and "In the next chapter..." stuff) and what characters think (without text balloons).
It's quite a "thinkful" volume. Lots of flashbacks and reflecting on events (but the flashbacks are "new", they're not from previous volumes).

Lots of lines and greytones, but also more realistically drawn than the most manga. I think it's a very pretty art style.

In a series re-read, yes. I don't think this is a good volume to read separately, because it's really following from events in the previous volumes.

Mar 27, 2012, 7:07pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De avonturen van kapitein Roodstorm ("Space Chantey")
Author: Raphael Lafferty
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 157
Year published: original 1968, my edition 1970
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: no ISBN number
BookCrossing ID: 8013193
Reason for reading: I got it with the SF bookcrossing pile from a friend and it sounded interesting (well... Odysseia-based and SF. Interesting combination...).

Back cover text:
Dit satirische popavontuur is een moderne en uitermate vrije navolging van Homerus' aloude Odyssee, met de onvervaarde Kapitein Roodstorm in de rol van ruimtevarende avonturier Odysseus. Ook los van deze achtergrond is De Avonturen van Kapitein Roodstorm een zeer toegankelijk en bovenal geestig verhaal. Roodstorm en een aantal dappere trawanten doorkruisen in twee kleine, gammele ruimtevaartuigen een aanzienlijk deel van de Melkweg, met zijn vele langs elkaar heen levende domeinen. Telkenmale wagen ze hun leven. Af en toe gaan ze inderdaad dood, maar sommige bemanningsleden worden weer tot leven gewekt. Voorts ontmoeten ze diverse vreemdsoortige en rare wezens, ze worden in dieren veranderd, vechten op leven en dood met reuzen, verslaan de sirenen, worden opgegeten, winnen honderden planeten met pokeren, regeren zelfs eenmaal het heelal als plaatsvervanger van een bekende mythologische figuur, etc. Tenslotte komt een oud geworden Roodstorm thuis van zijn omzwervingen en verjaagt de minnaars van zijn gemalin, die hem liever ziet gaan dan komen, en ja - wat moet hij verder dan doen?

First paragraph:
'Rood-Storm Verhaald', een oude zang uit de Kronieken
Hoort hier, gij Goede Bollen en Kegelkomieken,

Gevaren Gruwelzaam, gevechten heet van heibel,
En ieder woord is waar, gezworen op de Bijbel.

Leen ons het oor voor ongelofelijke zaken,
Laat dode Ruimtelieden, die niet dood zijn, u vermaken: -

Sommigen zwak en bleek, anderen echter sterk genoeg,
Sommigen keerden weer, maar sodeju het kostte werk genoeg!

Levende Opnamen, Beeckburgh A.A. 301

Zal er in de toekomst nog mythologie zijn, vroeg men zich vroeger altijd af, nadat alles wetenschap is geworden? Zullen heldendaden in verzen worden bezongen of alleen in komputerkode?

If you know anything about the events in the Odyssee, it's easy to recognize what the author based the events in this book on. Without that, I think it will just be an absurdistic story... I thought it was an interesting experiment (as it seemed to me a bit like that), but some things I did not really like to imagine so I just read over them (it was very casually being described that arms and such were torn off and heads were cut off... and things like that). I did like the way the author described Helios' cattle - asteroids which actually had another shape.

Writing style:
Each chapter started with poem-like verses as above and then it continued in normal prose. I think the translation wasn't very good, actually. Lots of "lone sentences", which weren't really connected to the previous and next sentences. Maybe that was also in the English version, but if that's the case then I just don't like this writing style. Also a few words that had a space inbetween them while they should be written together in Dutch (but... maybe the spelling rules changed, though I think that's not the case with all the space-divided words I came across in this book). Also, I didn't really like most of the poetry parts...

I'm not going to re-read this book, but it was interesting to have read it once. I'd recommend it for people who are interesting in variations of the Odyssee and how it could translate to another time period (though this 'time period' was... a weird future :P). Other books I thought of while reading this were the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (though that's better written and funnier) and Esther Vilar's "2002: een toekomstbeeld", which also has absurdistic planets (though music-related).

Mar 30, 2012, 10:39am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Nevelen van Avalon ("The mists of Avalon"
Author: Marion Bradley
Series: First book in the books about Avalon Marion Bradley has written.
Format: hardcover with dustcover
Pages: 952
Year published: original 1982, my edition 1985
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9010054918
Reason for reading: I wanted to read something Merlin-related after seeing the last episode of a BBC Merlin series season. As my mother really likes this series and has all the books (actually a bookcase full of Arthur-related books) and I had wanted to start this series for a while, I decided to read this book. I also read the book "Stormen over Troje" (The Firebrand)by the same author, which is also a thick book but then about Troy, and I didn't dislike her writing style.

Back cover text:
In deze roman wordt de legende van koning Arthur voor het eerst beschreven vanuit het standpunt van de vrouwen die hierin een zo grote rol vervullen.
De wereld van de heldhaftige koning Arthur en zijn ridders van de Ronde Tafel; van Avalon, het mysterieuze eiland voor de kust, alleen zichtbaar voor hen die uitverkoren zijn en de wereld van Camelot met al haar hartstocht en avonturen. De wereld die door de eeuwen heen door generaties telkens weer werd vastgelegd in verhalen, gedichten en toneelstukken, wordt voor de eerste keer onthuld zoals zij beleefd zou zijn door haar heldinnen:
IGRAINE, gehuwd met Uther Pendragon en voorbestemd om moeder van Arthur te worden;
VIVIANE, de majestueuze Vrouwe van het meer en Hogepriesteres van Avalon die op mysterieuze wijze ingrijpt in het leven van Igraine, haar zuster, maar die niet in staat is het langzame, maar onafwendbare verval van Avalon tegen te gaan;
GWENHWYFAR, gehoorzaam in het huwelijk getreden met Arthur maar in haar hart toebehorend aan Lancelot en daardoor niet in staat Arthur een zooon te schenken. Haar onbuigzame vroomheid brengt Arthur, en met hem geheel Brittannia, onder de machtige heerschappij van de christelijke pristers ondanks Arthurs heilige eed om het oude geloof van Avalon te beschermen en te handhaven;
MORGAINE, Gwenhwyfars beschermengel: vurig en intens in haar liefde en toewijding. Zij is priesteres van Avalon en begiftigd met het Gezicht. Morgaine wordt gekweld door haar onbeantwoorde liefde voor Lancelot en haar falen als moeder, zuster en echtgenoot. Het is Morgaines tragische lot om de neergang van haar broer Arthur te bewerkstelligen...

Het zijn de vrouwen, hun levens en gevoelens die de Arthurlegende nieuw leven inblazen waardoor men een bekend verhaal met nieuwe ogen leert aanschouwen.

Marion Bradley geeft ons in NEVELEN VAN AVALON, dat internationaal veel opzien baarde en reeds vele vertalingen mocht beleven, een superieure hervertelling van een legende; een briljante toevoeging aan de Arthurliteratuur.

First paragraph from the prologue:
Morgaine spreekt---
In mijn tijd heeft men mij vele namen gegeven: zuster, geliefde, priesteres, tovenares, koningin. Nu ben ik werkelijk een tovenares geworden en er zal wellicht een tijd komen waarin het nodig is dat deze zaken bekend zijn. Maar de simpele waarheid is, dat volgens mij de christenen het laatste verhaal zullen vertellen. Steeds verder drijven de wereld van de Feeën en de wereld waarin Christus heerst uiteen. Ik heb geen onenigheid met Christus, slechts met zijn priesters die de Grote Godin een demon noemen en ontkennen dat zij ooit macht had in deze wereld. Op zijn hoogst zeggen ze dat zij de macht van Satan bezat. Of anders kleden zij haar in het blauwe gewaad van de Vrouwe van Nazareth - die op haar manier inderdaad ook macht had - en zeggen dat zij de eeuwige maagd was. Maar wat weet een maagd van de zorgen en de moeizame arbeid van de mensheid?

I thought it was quite interesting to see this take on the Arthur stories. Because I started reading this immediately after watching BBC Merlin episodes, which is a tv series in which all the relationships from the "original story" are a bit 'messed up', I kept being surprised by the take the relationships took in this book. It was also that the people who're normally viewed as the 'evil people', weren't really evil (well, maybe two, though still not evil), and the people who are normally viewed as the 'good people', weren't all good...
I must say that somewhere halfway through the book, there was a part where Gwenhwyfar was going on and on about the goodness of Christianity and all other beliefs were evil and such, that I put away the book for a while to read other books. Though when I continued reading, the story had actually already moved on to other topics (only a little bit more). I should have continued reading the first time, I think, because after that the story got very interesting again (the part with Gwydion/Mordred really started then, as well as the part about the quest for the Holy Grail). I do like that even Gwenhwyfar comes to realize what she has been doing, also that Christianity is not evil but it is not always practiced in a way that corresponds with the original thoughts...
The book tells the story of Arthur's and Morgaine's (and the other people of their age and related people) entire lives. It is certainly readable as a stand-alone book and I am wondering what kind of things will be in the other Avalon books, but I already borrowed the second book from my mother so I can satisfy my curiosity :)

Writing style:
As it is the second edition I did see some typos (missing punctuations, "wanneer" written as "wanneeer"). But I do think those things are fixed by now, after more than 25 years...
The book starts with text in italics, spoken by Morgaine. Throughout the book, there are pages full of italic text where she is talking, so written in first person. The rest of the book is third person, not always from the viewpoint of Morgaine, but also from the viewpoints of Morgause, Gwenhwyfar, and others.
I like the writing style of both the first- and third-person parts, though it is not a very "easy-reading" writing style. It's not full of difficult words either, it's just that the grammar is a bit more "full", creating longer sentences even in the dialogues. Which still reads easily, but if you're really looking for a book with a writing style that "reads away quickly", don't read this book.

Yes, certainly! But first I'm curious about the other books.

Mar 31, 2012, 8:54am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De rat van roestvrij staal ("The Stainless Steel Rat")
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: "Stainless Steel Rat" series, book 1 in publishing order but book 4 in chronological order.
Format: paperback
Pages: 145
Year published: original 1961, my edition 1974
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9029002484
BookCrossing ID: 8443735
Reason for reading: From the SF bookcrossing pile I got from a friend. There are actually two books in this volume, but I'm reviewing them separately as they were published separately first too (and they're also separately present on Librarything). When I've finished the second book too, I'll add the two reviews together to the Bookcrossing page.

Back cover text:
Twee akelig spannende boeken met de belevenissen van de kleurrijke avonturier Jimmy diGriz, interstellair zwendelaar en free lance ruimtepiraat in een uitgestrekt planetenrijk waar de misdaad zo goed als uitgestorven is. DiGriz zorgt in zijn eentje voor de kleur en de spanning in het saaie leven van de oppassende burgers die de talloze vredige planeten bevolken. Een vrolijk en heel afwisselend leven - tot eindelijk de gevreesde Speciale Brigade zich over hem ontfermt... en hem een bondgenootschap aanbiedt! Dan volgt er een halsbrekende jacht op een revolutionaire misdadiger waarbij diGriz' hele opwindende leven van vroeger verbleekt...

First paragraph:
Toen de deur van het kantoor plotseling openging wist ik dat het spelletje afgelopen was. Het was een absolute geldmaker geweest - maar nu was het allemaal voorbij. Toen de smeris binnenliep leunde ik lui achterover in mijn stoel en trok een blije grijns. Hij had die sombere uitdrukking en zware voeten die ze allemaal hebben - en hetzelfde gebrek aan humor. Ik wist bijna woord voor woord wat hij ging zeggen, nog voor hij zijn mond had opengedaan.

As the back cover text says, the main character is a thief and then gets to work for the "Speciale Brigade", which is a special group of people who catches thieves and then recrutes them to find other thieves (and they're lawful).
I thought it was an interesting story, but there isn't a lot of worldbuilding. Most world-related things are mentioned in passing: hardly any crime, plastic is used for buildings and shoes, people live to become 200 years, there are humanoid robots which walk around and help with things (though every time they're described I get the image they're floating and then something is said about their legs again...), it is very easy to alter your appearance (at least for people who are a bit knowledgeable about crime), and the computers still work with punch cards. Oh and everyone's still smoking of course :P That's what I think is interesting about older SF - which elements from society do the authors imagine to change? In this case, the massive use of plastic for everything and the emergence of humanoid robots helping with security issues (mostly) and easy interstellair travel, as well as hardly any crime. Things like the way the computers work and the smoking behaviour he kept a bit similar to the 1950s/1960s (though the punch card computers in this book were quite fast and easy to use, apparently).
There weren't any characters I identified with, but the story was interesting enough to make it an enjoyable read.

Writing style:
Some observations about the language: "hun" was used when it should be "hen" according to grammatical rules nowadays, but as there's also a lot discussion about the hun/hen issue, I think this has been playing a role in written Dutch since the 1970s :P Another thing was the use of the 'strong' past tense "snoop" (currently only the weak past tense "snapte" is used). The weak/strong past tenses of Dutch verbs really change every dozen years, I think XD
I do think that sometimes it's really clear that it was translated from the English, looking at the word order and sentence structures.

No, but I'll read the second book as well.

Mar 31, 2012, 3:17pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De stalen rat neemt wraak ("The Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge")
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: "Stainless Steel Rat" series, book 2 in publishing order but book 5 in chronological order.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1: De rat van roestvrij staal
Format: paperback
Pages: 159
Year published: original 1961, my edition 1974
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9029002484
BookCrossing ID: 8443735
Reason for reading: From the SF bookcrossing pile I got from a friend. It was in a volume with book 1 and 2 together.

Back cover text:
Twee akelig spannende boeken met de belevenissen van de kleurrijke avonturier Jimmy diGriz, interstellair zwendelaar en free lance ruimtepiraat in een uitgestrekt planetenrijk waar de misdaad zo goed als uitgestorven is. DiGriz zorgt in zijn eentje voor de kleur en de spanning in het saaie leven van de oppassende burgers die de talloze vredige planeten bevolken. Een vrolijk en heel afwisselend leven - tot eindelijk de gevreesde Speciale Brigade zich over hem ontfermt... en hem een bondgenootschap aanbiedt! Dan volgt er een halsbrekende jacht op een revolutionaire misdadiger waarbij diGriz' hele opwindende leven van vroeger verbleekt...

First paragraph:
Ik stond in de rij, even geduldig als de andere belastingbetalers, met mijn ingevulde formulieren en mijn geld stevig in mijn warme hand. Geld, contant, het ouderwetse groene opvouwbare spul. Een plaatselijke gewoonte die ik van plan was kostbaar te gaan maken voor de plaatselijke gewoontedieren. Ik stond onder mijn valse baard te krabben, die gruwelijk kriebelde, toen de man voor mij wegliep en toen stond ik voor het loket. Mijn vinger bleef vastzitten in de lijm en het kostte moeite om hem los te krijgen zonder de baard ook af te rukken.

More little facts about the world mentioned in passing: cars running on steam (looking just like normal oil-cars of course), on electricity and on gas, devices which can transform a car into another car, marriage is still seen as important, pill to remove alcohol from blood, robots (on legs) on which you can sit for transport, that all the appearance-changing methods are based on plastic... (which didn't become that clear from the first book), no more religion at all, and moving images with sound on a flyer.
The story was quite different from the first book, but it was interesting to see how diGriz infiltrated into a society which seemed so difficult to get into on first sight.

Writing style:
Again, sometimes quite clear that it is translated from English... "gewond worden" should be "gewond raken", but it's a literal translation from "become wounded" which is a valid expression in English. Also didn't like the space in "zich zelf"... In Dutch it's without a space :P

No, but it was fun to read.

Apr 8, 2012, 11:28am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Kitchen Princess #1
Author: Manga by Natsumi Ando, story by Miyuki Kobayashi
Series: Kitchen Princess
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 208
Year published: original 2005, my edition 2007
Language: English (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 978-0345496201
Reason for reading: I had already read book 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8 of the series and now I wanted to read the rest too :)

Back cover text:
Najika is a great cook and she likes to make meals for the people she loves. But something is missing from her life. When she was a child, she met a boy who touched her heart - and now she's determined to find him. The only clue Najika has is a silver spoon that leads her to the prestigious Seika Academy.
Attending Seika will be a challenge. Every kid at the school has a special talent, and the girls in Najika's class think she doesn't deserve to be there. But Sora and Daichi, two popular brothers who barely speak to each other, recognize Najika's cooking for what it is - magical. Is either boy Najika's mysterious prince?

First page:
My prince left me a silver spoon and disappeared.
I will find him and make him the most delicious dessert in the world.
That is my dream.

I already knew a large part of the story, but reading the beginning was nice. In this volume, Najika goes from Hokkaido to Tokyo, where Seika Academy is located. How she came to work at Fujita Diner was also in this volume, which will play a large part in following volumes. I think it's better to just start reading in book 1 instead of 3, as book 3 has spoilers for book 1 (of course), though it's still fun to read this one :)
At the end of the book there's also the recipes for the food Najika makes. I haven't tried them, but the instructions look really clear (with text and drawings). Manga about food makes me hungry though XD It all looks so delicious!

Writing style:
No real comments - easy, quick-reading, similar to the atmosphere of the Japanese text (there's a chapter from the next book at the end in Japanese, as a "preview chapter").

Pretty, though sometimes the faces do look a bit off. Most of the time it's really pretty though :) Very 'shoujo' drawing style. And the food is drawn very delicious-looking!


Apr 8, 2012, 2:37pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Kitchen Princess #2
Author: Manga by Natsumi Ando, story by Miyuki Kobayashi
Series: Kitchen Princess 2/10
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1
Format: paperback, right-to-left
Pages: 208
Year published: original 2005, my edition 2007
Language: English (original = Japanese)
ISBN number: 978-0345496591
Reason for reading: I just read volume 1 and I want to read this entire series :)

Back cover text:
Najika has a special gift. She's a marvelous cook whose food awakens people's fondest memories and feelings of affection. Now she's attending the prestigious Seika Academy, where she hopes to find her "prince", the boy who saved her when she was a little girl. One big problem: It seems that nobody wants her at the school - except two cute brothers, Sora and Daichi, who befriend her right away. But the super-popular teen model Akane will do anything to drive Najika out of the school, even if it means staging a cooking contest with an award-winning chef as Najika's opponent. Will Najika's magical food warm Akane's cold heart?

First-and-a-half page:
Sora: You have an absolute sense of taste.
Najika: Absolute sense... of taste...?
Daichi: What's that? I've never heard of it.

The first part of the story is about the cooking contest as described in the backcover text. Maybe it's because I've already read book 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8, but it was a bit predictable that Najika would win this time.
Also, one of the girls (not saying whom) has an eating disorder, where she doesn't want to eat anything and throws up food after she has eaten it. I think they did handle the problem quite well in this book, and I do think that it's good that they showed this side of eating in the series. Of course it is solved in this book (hoping it stays that way, of course), but it brings eating into a positive light again, which might be helpful to some people.

Writing style:
The writing goes well with the drawings, it forms the story together with the art.

Sometimes the face outlines are a bit odd, but otherwise it's really pretty. I do think the artist improves on that, as in a later series drawn by her, she doesn't draw the face outlines oddly anymore.


Apr 10, 2012, 11:10am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: De stalen rat redt de wereld (The stainless steel rat saves the world
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: "De stalen rat" (The stainless steel rat) book 3 in publishing order, book 6 in chronological order
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1, book 2
Format: paperback
Pages: 152
Year published: original 1972, my edition 1976
Language: Dutch, original English
ISBN number: 9029008148
BookCrossing ID: 8481468
Reason for reading: Bookcrossing book that was in the pile I got from a friend. It's a book with two books inside, of which the first one is "De stalen rat redt de wereld".

Back cover text:
Nieuwe avonturen van die niet te verdelgen vrijbuiter van de Melkweg, de ontembare Stalen Rat...! Ditmaal lijken de problemen schier onoplosbaar, maar - Jimmy Bolivar diGriz en zijn lieftallige eega, bekend uit eerdere aangrijpende avonturen, hebben wel voor hetere rattevallen gestaan!

First paragraph:
'Jij bent een schurk, James Bolivar diGriz,' zei Inskipp. Hij gromde diep in zijn keel als een dier en schudde de stapel papieren heftig in mijn richting. Ik leunde tegen een kast in zijn kantoor, een toonbeeld van geschokte ernst.
'Ik ben onschuldig,' snikte ik. 'Het slachtoffer van een kille, berekende leugencampagne.' Ik had zijn tabakskist achter mijn rug en op de tast alleen - ik ben werkelijk erg goed in dat soort dingen - voelde ik naar het slot.

I thought this was a very interesting story, as Jim travels to the past (1975, which is still 3 years into the future at the time of original publishing) to stop a time war. Following his adventure in 1975, which was really funny, he travelled to an alternate England of around 1807. This book also made clear the original time the "Steel Rat" came from: 32598+1975=34573 in our current year counting system. Yeah :P Also the end of the Earth is explained (...alternate Earth, or not?).
Most interesting Steel Rat story so far, I think.
Writing style:
Not very special. It reads quickly and it's the same as in the other two books.
No, but it was fun to read.

Apr 12, 2012, 3:19pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Planeet der verdoemden (Planet of the damned, also published as "Sense of obligation" in 'Astounding Science Fiction' from September to November 1961)
Author: Harry Harrison
Series: Brion Brandd series #1, but readable as a stand-alone book.
Format: paperback
Pages: 151
Year published: original 1962, my edition 1976
Language: Dutch, original English
ISBN number: 9029008148
BookCrossing ID: 8481468
Reason for reading: It was in a 2-in-1 volume together with "De stalen rat redt de wereld".

Back cover text:
Dis was geen planeet voor mensen: woest, achterlijk, dor. En dan waren er de kille Magter... Niet tevreden met één levende hel, wilden deze vreemde wezens in hun waanzin ook hun beschaafde buurplaneet nivelleren.
Brion Brandd kreeg 72 uur om Dis te redden. Maar waar te beginnen? De ijzige Magter leken niets liever te willen dan ieder een in een totale ramp te laten ondergaan - zichzelf inbegrepen! De uren tikken voorbij...

First paragraph:
Brions lichaam was bedekt met zweet dat in zijn strakke lendendoek sijpelde, het enige kledingstuk dat hij droeg. De lichte schermdegen in zijn hand leek even zwaar als een loden staaf voor zijn spieren die afgemat waren door een maand van onafgebroken lichaamsinspanning. Deze zaken waren van geen belang. De snee op zijn borst die nog bloedde, de pijn in zijn vermoeide ogen - zelfs de gigantische arena om hem heen met zijn duizenden toeschouwers - allemaal nietige dingen die geen aandacht waard waren. Er bestond maar één ding in zijn heelal: het stomp uitlopende stuk glanzend staal dat voor hem zweefde in gevecht met zijn eigen wapen. Hij voelde het leven erin huiveren en trillen, wist wanneer het bewoog en bewoog zelf om het tegen te streven. En als hij aanviel was het altijd aanwezig om hem af te slaan.

I thought it was interesting - what can happen when humans mutate to adapt to life on other planets? Quite a few possible mutations are mentioned, of which a few are explained more thoroughly as those people are the main characters in the story. Earth also still exists (it takes place in an undefined future with spaceships etc.) but is way too full.
All the running around with nuclear energy without protection... It was the same in the Steel Rat books... Portable motors running on nuclear power, yeah right :P Doesn't sound very safe to me. In the 1960s people probably were a LOT more optimistic as it was still a new technology then. The focus in this book was really a lot more on the way humans could evolve and the societies that they could form, which was the most interesting part. Dis is a planet full of symbiotic and parasitic life-forms, also between plants and animals, which was described and explained nicely. Not "just because", but the author gave possible environmental causes for the mutations too.

Writing style:
Easy reading, but still some typos ('eeerst' instead of 'eerst', for example). Sometimes you can recognize the literal English sentence from the Dutch translation, but not that often.

No, though it was fun to read. I will be taking the book with me to Ameland this weekend and leave it there, as it's a Bookcrossing book :)

Apr 12, 2012, 4:54pm Top

hi Selene
haven't commeted much lately, as I don't read manga, there is not much to say ;-)
I hope you have a nice trip to Ameland!

Apr 16, 2012, 10:07am Top

It was really nice on Ameland :) I just returned. I'll upload photos to my (wordpress) weblog today or tomorrow :) Didn't read a lot there, though I'm now halfway through another Bookcrossing book and I left behind one SF-bookcrossing book on Ameland as well.

Apr 16, 2012, 3:02pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Ik mis je, ik mis je! (Swedish "Jag saknar dig, jag saknar dig!"; English "I miss you, I miss you!"; on Librarything)
Author: Peter Pohl and Kinna Gieth
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 215
Year published: original 1992, my edition 1998
Language: Dutch (original Swedish)
ISBN number: 9021478560
BookCrossing ID: 9666164
Reason for reading: It came with the Bookcrossing-books pile I got from a friend. I asked for it because I saw it in a book-magazine when it was first published in Dutch (which was in 1994) and it sounded interesting, but I just never read the book (I guess I didn't think of looking for it in the library).

Back cover text:
Cilla en Tina zijn een tweeling. Een eeneiige tweeling om precies te zijn - ze zijn dan ook uiterlijk niet van elkaar te onderscheiden. Maar hebben een totaal verschillend karakter.
Tina is een vrolijk type, gemakkelijk in de omgang. En eeuwig verliefd... steeds op een ander natuurlijk.
Cilla is moeilijker, minder toegankelijk. Zij houdt van literatuur, toneel, muziek. Zij is eigenlijk ook de actiefste van de twee.
Dat de zusjes veel ruzie hebben spreekt vanzelf, maar dat neemt niet weg dat ze niet zonder elkaar kunnen.
Opeens, van de ene dag op de andere móét Tina wel zonder Cilla, en voorgoed en voor eeuwig. Moeten is makkelijk gezegd, maar hóé dan? En als het nu niet kán?

First paragraph:
Het is april en thuis in de Rozenhof zitten twee meisjes, ze heten Cilla en Tina. Ze zijn een eeneiige tweeling en deze zomer worden ze veertien jaar. Maar Cilla zal dat niet meer meemaken - ze zal over niet al te lange tijd een auto-ongeluk krijgen en sterven. Dat is het afschuwelijkste wat me ooit is overkomen en ik vertel het meteen maar, want het is niet de bedoeling dat dit een spannend verhaal wordt met een slim bedacht einde, dat tot op de laatste bladzijde achtergehouden moet worden. Dit is het verhaal van Tina die achterbleef en op de been moest blijven, zich staande moest houden zonder Cilla. En ik, die dit vertel, ben Tina, maar ik weet niet of ik wel in staat ben over 'mij' te vertellen en daarom zeg ik 'haar'.

The story is about Cilla's and Tina's life before the accident and also what happened after the incident, mainly about how their family and classmates reacted to Cilla's death.
I thought the story was interesting to read, but it was not a story which I wanted to read without taking a break.
I do remember it was in the "adult" section of the book magazine, but now I'm reading it, I think it's more like a children's book or young adult book - but the magazine didn't have a "young adult" section.
Writing style:
The writing style was very 'continuous' - dialogues weren't put between apostrophes, there was French inbetween (sometimes with a translation repeated in the following sentence, sometimes not) because Tina and Cilla and their father immigrated from France to Sweden, thoughts and story weren't strictly divided.
Also, Tina and Cilla both wrote poems, so there are some poems inbetween the text as well.
For the most part, it reads like a story told in third-person, but once I thought "It reads like a diary or something", but then I thought back to the first paragraph and I thought it was meant like that, but if that's what the author wanted (or didn't want...) then he failed in that aspect, because it wasn't a consistent viewpoint (for me, at least).
I did think it was clear that it was translated, especially with some sentences. In the book there was "geloven aan God", but I think the common way of saying 'believe in God' is "geloven in God" in Dutch. The book was translated in 1994, but I was already 7/8 at that time and I don't remember hearing "geloven aan God", always "in God". So maybe it's from the local dialect of the translator or mine (so I didn't hear the 'aan God' version). There was also another sentence which had an "in" too many, in my opinion: En ik zie ook in, dat ik dat nooit eerder diep in begrepen en toegeven had!
I'd say something like 'diep in mij' or similar... or maybe switch around the word order a bit... It sounds odd to me this way though.
Maybe. As it's a Bookcrossing book I'll be passing it on or leaving it behind somewhere, so when I think I want to re-read it, I'll borrow it from the library.

Apr 16, 2012, 4:14pm Top

I love all Peter Pohl books!
They are so beautiful and so sad...

Never noticed the translation errors, but then I read it some time ago.
All his books are YA, at least the 4 books that are translated into Dutch.

Apr 17, 2012, 3:54am Top

It's the first book I've read by him :) If I come across another one I will read it too.

Apr 19, 2012, 5:28pm Top

Title: Wat autisme met je doet (on publisher's website)
Author: John Foran & Karin Harsevoort-Zoer
Series: yes, "Wat ... met je doet"
Format: hardcover (library)
Pages: 193
Year published: original 2010, my edition 2010
Language: Dutch (= original language)
ISBN number: 9789023924937
Reason for reading: My mother had borrowed it from the library and said it was a book which explained clearly what it can be like to live with someone with autism (or when someone has it themselves).

Back cover text:
Autisme is een ingrijpende, complexe stoornis met verstrekkende gevolgen. De beperkingen die uit autisme voortvloeien, kunnen de relatie met ouders, partner, vrienden en collega's erg onder druk zetten en veroorzaken vaak onbegrip, verdriet en machteloosheid. Goede voorlichting kan alle betrokkenen helpen om hier beter mee om te gaan.
In "Wat autisme met je doet" beschrijven John Foran en Karin Harsevoort-Zoer met veel begrip de problemen die autisme op allerlei terreinen met zich mee kan brengen. Dit boek, dat opent met zes diepte-interviews, is een nieuw deel in de succesvolle serie 'Wat ... met je doet'.

First paragraph:
Autisme is een misleidend woord. Letterlijk betekent het: helemaal op jezelf zijn. Maar dat wil niet zeggen dat iemand met autisme niemand nodig heeft. Integendeel.
Autisme is een ernstige, maar onzichtbare stoornis. Mensen met autisme zien er lichamelijk helemaal niet afwijkend uit. Soms vallen zij op door hun wat houterige gedrag, hun afwijkende blik en de zich herhalende bewegingen. Maar de kern van hun probleem is onzichtbaar. Dat zij 'sociale informatie' anders verwerken, overspoeld worden door prikkels die allemaal even heftig binnenkomen, onttrekt zich aan de waarneming van de buitenstaander. Zelfs ouders, broers en zussesn of hulpverleners verkijken zich er regelmatig op. Dit hebben we toch al honderden keren met je doorgenomen? Kun je het nu niet uit jezelf? Nee.

Part 1: Interviews
It is clear that the interviews were done by a Christian interviewer and interviewees, because each one tells a bit about what their church does and things about how they view God and such. It's only a small paragraph each time, though.
The first interview is about a 31-year-old woman who has been diagnosed at age 30 with autism (not specified) and a man who had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrom at age 26. Both are highly intelligent. They talk about the way they lived their lives and they both wanted to have been diagnosed earlier, in hindsight.
The second interview was with a family of whom the father had been diagnosed at age 34 with PDD-NOS and two children (age 7 and 11) as well. The mother finds it quite difficult and cannot share many of her worries because she has to care so much for the other people in her family. She lost all of her social contacts except for her job, which is only a few hours each week.
The third interview was about a 20-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with PDD-NOS at age 12 and Asperger's Syndrome at age 18. He has most difficulties with social aspects and things he can't predict. His parents are worrying about how it will go when he moves out.
The fourth interview was with a mother who has three boys with Asperger's/PDD-NOS, of which two went to a psychiatric institution. She also got a burn-out, became depressed, lost contact with a large part of the family and with her social contacts (she does still have a husband). All three boys were in school/working at the time of the interview.
The fifth interview was about a 4-year-old boy who had been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome 1.5 years earlier. He has a lot of trouble understanding emotions of other people and doesn't display a lot of emotions himself either. His parents lost their social network as well.
The sixth interview was with a family of which the boy was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome at age 7 (two years before the interview). He can't interpret other people's emotions well and wants other people to do exactly what he wants. He also doesn't have any fantasy to create things himself, he only copies stories (this was the case with a boy from another interview as well). They have a younger daughter without autism and the parents also talk about how she handles the contact with her brother and such.
Part 2: Autisme - Wat is er aan de hand?
This part was actually larger than part 1, but as this part contains a lot of information I think that's less suited for summarizing like the interview parts, because the information can be found in more books and the interviews can't.
This part first starts with a history. They say it's possible that 'changelings' could have been children with autism, because they behaved 'abnormally'. Then in the 19th century the 'real research' started. In the 1960s/1970s, the view of the current way of viewing autism started to develop. As it's a book from 2010, there's also some very recent history.
Then follows a chapter which explains what autism is, with examples from people with autism. I thought this was a very clear chapter - it included examples and different theories. What I noticed was that it is said to be quite unknown that autism in people with normal-to-high intelligence is quite unknown. The few people with autism I know personally (not online) have at least VWO-level intelligence (normal to higher than normal), but that may also be because I'm mostly in contact with normal-to-high intelligent people. There also is a part about how children with autism can handle the belief in God and what parents can do.
I thought this book was a LOT better than this book I previously read. It also had a lot better explanation and more depth. I would recommend this book more than that other one.

Writing style:
Easy to read, with examples from daily life.

I do think it's a re-readable book, but as it was borrowed from the library I think there's not a chance I'll be re-reading it quickly.

Apr 20, 2012, 1:24pm Top

I just found The Scottish Prisoner in the 2nd hand bookstore and it looks like new (^o^) *happy*
I also started Bookcrossing more actively together with my sister - today I left Turbotaal at the station in Eindhoven. Currently reading another Bookcrossing book, The Adamantine Palace.
Next week classes start again, for which I'll have to read books too, so there'll be study book reviews coming up again as well :)

Apr 20, 2012, 4:55pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The Adamantine palace
Author: Stephen Deas
Series: "A memory of flames" book 1, but readable as a stand-alone, though it's not really a closed ending. The series title is nowhere to be found on/in the book, so it probably wasn't a series yet when this edition was published.
Format: paperback
Pages: 369
Year published: original 2009, my edition 2009
Language: English (= original)
ISBN number: 9780575083745
BookCrossing ID: 11057631
Reason for reading: I got it from a friend.

Back cover text:
The power of the Realms depends on its dragons. Jealously guarded, nurtured by their handlers, ridden by the aristocracy, they are bred for hunting and for war. But only the alchemists and the mysterious liquid they administer to the dragons stand between the Realms and disaster; for without the liquid, the dragons would be returned to their natural fury: Unbiddable, terrifying, awesomely strong, able to destroy an entire army, to burn a kingdom to ashes.

Prince Jehal is thinking of other things. Of power over all the Kings and Queens of the Realms; and he is prepared to charm, lie, betray, plot and murder to get it. Nor is he alone in his ambition. Queen Shezira has her daughters and she means to use them as she herself was used, to gain the ultimate prize, marrying them off to secure her influence and power.

All sell-sword Kemir is thinking of is money. Of freedom from the un-ending arrogance of the dragon riders. And maybe of a little cold revenge against the warlords who both need him and despise him.

First paragraph:
Prince Jehal felt the dragon take to the air. Curled up inside a saddlebag, he couldn't see a thing. But that didn't matter. He could see it in his mind, exactly and precisely. He felt every stride as the dragon accelerated. He knew exactly when the dragon would make one last bound and unfurl its wings. He felt himself grow heavier as the dragon rose up into the air.

The story was messy, in my opinion. Especially at the beginning, where too many characters were introduced at once. At some point it becomes clearer, because characters are killed off (and I didn't care for any of them...) and there also are chapters from the dragon(s)'(s) viewpoint. The reader knows everything, but none of the characters know everything. That's not that hard to keep track of, though.
I didn't like the humans in this book at all. I liked the dragons a lot more...
The world-building was also missing things. The author writes that dragons have always lived on this world, but all old records are burned/gone, but what kind of world is it exactly? He also uses unknown names for animals, which aren't explained quite well either (just that they eat humans). He wrote that there are "Realms", which just sound like clans each inhabiting a mountain or smallish area, but they're hardly explained and you don't really see anything of the common people living in those realms.

Writing style:
Easy to read, but also a bit messy, jumping from one point to another (though more "slow jumping")...

No, I didn't like this book. I don't think I'm going to pick up another book by this author either, as I didn't really like the writing style.

Edited: Apr 21, 2012, 6:09pm Top

Title: Het hoog sensitieve kind - Help je kinderen op te groeien in een wereld die hen overweldigt ("The highly sensitive child")
Author: Elaine N. Aron
Series: no, though the author has also written other books about highly sensitive people.
Format: paperback
Pages: 379
Year published: original 2002, my edition 2004
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9063051182
Reason for reading: I wanted to read something about highly sensitive people this weekend and this was the book my mother had. I'm not the target audience (that's parents and teachers), but there's also a lot of information in it, so I thought it could be a good place to start anyway.

Back cover text:
Jarenlange ervaring als psychotherapeute en eigen onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat een Hoog Sensitief Kind bedachtzamer en gevoeliger is, en makkelijker overmand raakt door heftige emoties dan het gemiddelde kind. Hoewel een HSK vaak creatief en slim is, krijgt het vaak het label angstig, geremd en zenuwachtig te zijn. Om te voorkomen dat een HSK nog langer als 'probleemkind' wordt bestempeld, heeft Aron deze gids voor ouders en leraren geschreven.
Het Hoog Sensitieve Kind bevat naast zelftests, casestudies en adviezen:
* vier manier om je HSK succesvol op te voeden in een niet-sensitieve wereld
* hoe kun je school(reisjes) en vriendschappen plezierig maken
* hoe moet je omgaan met verschillende leeftijdsgroepen HSK
* hoe kun je het beste omgaan met slaapproblemen en emotionele uitbarstingen

Bestsellerauteur en psychotherapeute Elaine N. Aron laat in dit baanbrekende boek zien hoe ouders en leraren het Hoog Sensitieve Kind vanaf de geboorte tot aan de tienerjaren het beste kunnen begeleiden.

First paragraph of the foreword:
Als je deze woorden leest, heb je een reden om te denken dat je zoon of dochter hoog sensitief is. Om zo goed mogelijk te begrijpen wat dat betekent, kun je de checklist op pagina 15 en 16 doornemen. Als een groot aantal uitspraken van toepassing is op jouw kind, lees dan verder... en welkom.
Vrijwel iedereen weet dat kinderen al bij hun geboorte een eigen persoonlijkheid bezitten. 'Ze wist altijd al wat ze wilde, als baby al, en ze moest en zou het krijgen, want anders...' 'Hij was altijd al een makkelijk kind, of je hem nu voedde of niet, zijn luier verschoonde of niet - het maakte nauwelijks verschil.' Net als ieder ander kind heeft ook het jouwe zijn eigen, unieke combinatie van aangeboren karaktereigenschappen meegekregen. Dergelijke eigenschappen zijn elk opzich waarschijnlijk niet uniek, maar typeren bepaalde groepen kinderen die daarmee makkelijk kunnen worden omschreven. 'Wilskrachtig.' 'Makkelijk.' Enzovoorts.

The author explains why she wrote the book. About 15-20% of humans (Wikipedia also cites this author) have high sensitivity (not only humans, but also other mammals). There's also a question list which you can use to see if your child is highly sensitive (or yourself...). Both tests are online on the author's website, though the ones in the book differ a little bit. Another website (Dutch) with a lot of information is Ook zo gevoelig.nl.
Chapter 1: Sensitiviteit. Een betere kijk op 'verlegen' of 'lastige' kinderen:
The author writes about high sensitivity is exactly, her research and how she started and executed it, misconceptions about it and the difference between actual disorders. The chapter starts out positive, but also lists some negative things - mostly positive, which is very understandable considering the target audience, I think. The Wikipedia page linked above does give some of the more important points already as well.
There also is a part about the difference between HS and autism and Asperger's Syndrome (differences in behaviour, mostly, and the similar behaviours are explained as resulting from different causes), as well as a part about the differences/similarities of HS and ADD.
The chapter ends with a more elaborate checklist. On the author's website here, there's a more elaborate article about the differences between Asperger's Syndrome, autism and HS.
Chapter 2: Riemen vast. De uitdagingen van het opvoeden van een bijzonder kind:
Lots of examples in this chapter, which I like. She also talked about HS in dogs, because she had a lot of personal experience with different dogs. She also notes things that can cause problems and possible solutions. The chapter ends with a list of positive things of raising a HS child.
Chapter 3: Als je als ouder niet hoog sensitief bent. Een zegen in vermomming:
This chapter is about when you're a parent and NOT HS, but also contains useful things for parents who are HS. There's a test at the end of the chapter for parents to see if they are HS. It is a bit different than the test for children, but I think you can do both for yourself as well (the questions are a bit different, of course). I think the test for parents might be the same as the author used in her book on HS for adults, but as I don't have access to that book now I cannot compare the lists. There are some tips specifically for American parents ("...in the American culture..."). As this chapter talks a lot about what HS children do and how they react to things, it's also useful for adult HS people to understand their own behaviour (so, like I wrote in the "reason for reading", it is a good book to start with reading about HS).
Chapter 4: Als zowel jij als je kind hoog sensitief zijn. En hoe zit het met het temperament van de rest van het gezin?:
The first part is for HS parents, but the second part talks about the rest of the family as well. The author is a HS parent and one thing she did I thought was very interesting was that she put a lot of toys on the kitchen floor, climbed onto the fridge so she could read quietly there while her son was playing without seeing her (having the whole kitchen floor to himself was fun) and she could also watch him. There was also some more talk about "talking volume" in this chapter. I think that is especially important in the Netherlands, because everyone (well, 80% :P) always talks really loud here. When I returned from Japan I thought everyone was shouting all the time XD Until I got used to it again a bit more, but still :P Apparently the average talking volume is a lot louder in the Netherlands than in Japan. When I went to America, the volume was about the same as in the Netherlands, I think (at least I wasn't so shocked when I walked out of the plane on Amsterdam Airport again / talked with my family/friends in the Netherlands again XD). I haven't been to any other Asian countries, though, so I can't generalize from Japan to other Asian countries. I do think the talking volume is about the same in other European countries though.
Chapter 5: Hoe wordt je HSK een levenslustig kind - vier sleutels bij de opvoeding. Eigenwaarde, het beperken van het schaamtegevoel, een verstandig gebruik van discipline en sensitiviteit bespreekbaar kunnen maken:
About selfrespect, shame, and how to talk with other people about HS. The author also talks about the aspect of shame in the Japanese culture, in comparison to the American culture - that people in Japan pay a bit more attention to what the other people think and base their opinion of themselves on that, while in America the opinion of others doesn't really count, only their own opinion (which is the case in cultures, among which the American culture, where independence is valued highly). The HS people she talked to, told her that they feel at home in the Japanese culture.
Chapter 6: Een goed begin. Troost en afstemming bij hoog sensitieve baby's:
The second part of the book, starting with this chapter, is about each age category. This chapter is about baby's with HS. It surprised me that she wrote 'European babies seem to cry less and if the weather allows, they are put outside in their perambulator (Dutch: kinderwagen) to sleep'. I do know of parents who went out for a walk with a sleeping baby in the perambulator, but not of just putting it outside and letting the baby sleep there. "European" is very broad though :P I don't know anything about the way babies are raised in other European countries. What I thought was really interesting, is that she had a part about how 'another culture' treated babies from 2 to 6 months old - and that other culture was the Dutch culture. I was a bit surprised, but with this book it's quite important to keep in mind that it has been written from an American perspective. I thought this was very interesting to read. It also did talk about about the "Dutch way of raising children" and general assumptions in general, with the differences between America and the Netherlands.
Chapter 7: Kinderen van een tot vijf jaar - thuis. Omgaan met verandering en overprikkeling:
What the chapter title says - about children from 1 to 5, at home, how to deal with changes and over-stimulation.
Chapter 8: Kinderen van een tot vijf jaar - in de wereld. Je kind ondersteunen bij het omgaan met nieuwe situaties:
About children from 1 tot 5 outside the home, how to deal with new situations.
Chapter 9: Vijf tot twaalf jaar - HSK's in de schoolleeftijd. Probleemoplossing thuis:
What the title says - about problems that can arise at home (age 5 to 12). I don't seem to have a lot of comments to these age-related chapters. It does all sound quite logical to me, all of course things. I do like that there also are examples from real life (throughout the entire book).
Chapter 10: Vijf tot twaalf jaar - HSK's in de schoolleeftijd. School en vriendschappen:
About various things at school - friendships, how they learn (or not), teasing and other problems.
Chapter 11: Sensitieve pubers en jongvolwassenen. De delicate opgave om een bezield en zeewaardig vaartuig te water te laten; Twintig tips voor leerkrachten:
This chapter is about puberty (at home, high school, romance and sexuality, leaving the house) and the beginning of adulthood.

Writing style:
It is really written as if the author is talking to the reader. However, as I'm not exactly the target audience (I'm not a parent/teacher), in those parts talking about "your child" it seems like the author is not talking to me, but to someone else. I do think it's a nice writing style, though sometimes I wonder about the original English text (as sometimes it seems to be a bit too literally translated from an American English text).
Book titles of other books are given in Dutch when there already was a translation published (at the time of this book's publishing, 2004), otherwise in English (as all the books to which the author references are originally English books).
I also saw one typo: "mannier" instead of "manier", but it's the first Dutch edition, so understandable.
Things about the translation: in Dutch the translator writes "hoog sensitief", corresponding to the English "highly sensitive". I am really sure that it should be "hoogsensitief" in Dutch - using a space between the words is an Anglicism! Though you can say "hoog sensitief (noun)" and also "hoog sensitieve (noun)", but I think then the latter still looks better written as "hoog-sensitieve (noun)"... But all those spaces between words I see a lot in Dutch texts young people write nowadays - they're used to be all the words being written with spaces inbetween as they also read/write a lot of English and then they extend those rules to Dutch... I personally don't like that, as it sounds a bit like a 'stop' when I'm reading those words (unlike a space placed where it belongs), but it's an advantage when checking other people's Dutch texts ^^;

Yes, I think it's a book worth rereading.

Apr 22, 2012, 5:08pm Top

Review also posted at my weblog here.
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Ender's game
Author: Orson Scott Card
Series: yes, book 1 in the "Ender" series.
Format: paperback
Pages: 324
Year published: original 1977, my edition 1991
Language: English (= original language)
ISBN number: 09780812550702 / 0812550706
Reason for reading: I got it from a friend and I knew it was quite a well-known book, I had just never come across it... So I did want to read it, as it did sound interesting.

Back cover text:
"Intense is the word for Ender's Game. Aliens have attacked earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses - and then training them in the arts of war... The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of 'games.'... Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games.... He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?" - The New York Times

First paragraph:
"I've watched through his eyes. I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get."
"That's what you said about the brother."
"The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability."
"Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He's too malleable. Too willing to submerge himself in someone else's will."
"Not if the other person is his enemy."
"So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?"
"If we have to."
"I thought you said you liked this kid."
"If the buggers get him, they'll make me look like his favorite uncle."
"All right. We're saving the world, after all. Take him."

The beginning was a little bit confusing - what is a "Third", why does Ender have a monitor in his neck? But those things were explained quickly enough, so for the rest it was all very clear storywise. The story seems to take place a bit more than 100 years into the future (maybe a bit more), because "a century ago they still made computers that did not connect to everything". There already have been two "bugger wars", wars with aliens who look like bugs (ant-like, to be more specific, though there's no exact description of the aliens anywhere). On Earth, there's an America and a Eurasia (ruled by Russia) under the Warsaw pact. The book was originally published in the 1970s, so of course the author would choose Russia. Nowadays, he might have chosen another country, but the Russia/America thing I see a lot in older SF. There even was a Dutch character, though I didn't know until it was mentioned - his name wasn't typically Dutch, but maybe it will be so in more than a century :P Only the Netherlands and Poland were named as countries, but judging from that, it sounds like all the currently existing countries will still exist then, though all united. Lately all the SF books I've read only talked about what (North) America would be like in the future, but I like to know about the rest of the world too XD
I liked the way the technology and the games were described, very easy to imagine what it would look like.
There's enough mystery to leave you guessing about things until the very, very end. While it's not the most positive ending possible, there is hope at the end. It would be possible to read only this book and not the sequels, I think. It's a good ending. Though I am curious about what else the author wrote to continue the story, as my edition lists 7 other Ender books.

Writing style:
I thought Ender's thoughts were very well described, you could really feel along with Ender.
In the introduction, the author said that people commented children don't talk like this. I think they do - it's about highly intelligent children, and the words and grammatical structures Ender used don't seem too difficult or anything. The adults in the book do still talk a bit differently from the children.
This should be the "Author's definitive edition", according to the cover, but I hope that in later editions, they fixed the one typo I found (there was one "fee" which should have been "feet") :P

Yes, certainly! I would also like to read the sequel(s).

Apr 26, 2012, 4:47pm Top

Review also posted on my weblog here.

Title: Artificial Intelligence - A philosophical introduction (on LT)
Author: Jack Copeland
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 315
Year published: original 1993, my edition 1993
Language: English (= original language)
ISBN number: 063118385x
Reason for reading: Required reading for a course.

Back cover text:
Presupposing no familiarity with the technical concepts of either philosophy or computing, this clear introduction reviews the progress made in AI since the inception of the field in 1956. Copeland goes on to analyse what those working in AI must achieve before they can claim to have built a thinking machine and appraises their prospects of succeeding.
There are clear introductions to connectionism and to the language of thought hypothesis which weave together material from philosophy, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. John Searle's recent attacks on AI and cognitive science are countered and close attention is given to foundational issues, including the nature of computation, Turing machines, the Church-Turing thesis and the differences between classical symbol processing and parallel distributed processing. The book also explores the possibility of machines having freewill and consciousness and concludes with a discussion of in what sense the human brain may be a computer.

First paragraph of the Introduction:
Not long ago I watched a TV interview with Edward Fredkin, a specialist in electronic engineering and manager of the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Fredkin is an earnest man with a serious, authorative manner. What he had to say was startling.
There are three great events in history. One, the creation of the universe. Two, the appearance of life. The third one, which I think is equal in importance, is the appearance of artificial intelligence. This is a form of life that is very different, and that has possibilities for intellectual achievement that are hard for us to imagine. These machines will evolve: some intelligent computers will design others, and they'll get to be smarter and smarter. The question is, where will that leave us? It is fairly difficult to imagine how you can have a machine that's millions of times smarter than the smartest person and yet is really our slave, doing what we want. They may condescent to talk to use, they may play games that we like to play, and in some sense, they might keep us as pets.

Chapter 1: The beginnings of Artificial Intelligence: a historical sketch
It starts with a story about the development of computers and the first AI programmes. It's clear that it's already a slightly older book (from 1993), as it says that the programming language mostly used for AI programmes is LISP... Though I heard 6 years ago that LISP was used more in the US and Haskell more in Europe (from the 'functional programming languages'), I think other languages than LISP are used a bit more now. Mostly this chapter talks about the prominent figures who started the field of AI (McCarthy, Turing, etc.), until Turing's death (suicide).
Chapter 2: Some dazzling exhibits
A 'tour' of American AI laboratories and their projects, to show that the idea of a 'thinking computer' deserves to be taken seriously - which is what this book philosophizes about a lot. For examples PARRY and ELIZA, pattern-matching "chat robots" which seem like a real person. The anecdotes the author gives are really funny/interesting, I think. And apparently the meaning of 'hacker' changed as well - here the author lists the meaning of 'hacker' as 'compulsive programmer' or 'programming addict'. And apparently they were naming chess computers after computers from the Hitchhiker's Guide in 1991 and a bit before (Deep Thought and Deep Thought 2... XD). There's also a part where the GPS (General Problem Solver) is still described positively, though the teacher said in class that the project failed. Another project, MYCIN, is described as "looking promising", and in article I had to for a previous class, it was already used (so it succeeded).
Chapter 3: Can a machine think?
About consciousness and whether or not it's necessary for thought processes (it's not). Rather a philosophical chapter. Also a lot about the Turing Test - can a computer pass as a human? It also explained the working of the pattern-matching 'conversation programs' like ELIZA. The author also lists objections to the Turing Test. Again it's clear it's an older book by the use of 'floppy disk' ("What one computer painstakingly learns through a process of sensory interaction with its environment can be transferred to a sister machine at the flick of a floppy disk."). The author concludes this chapter that it can be possible to think that computers can think.
Chapter 4: The symbol system hypothesis
The author argues that a computer is the right kind of machine to think (and not a vacuum cleaner, for example - though I do think there are already vacuum cleaners with enough computer-like technology that you could say you could make thinking vacuum cleaners) - and would it technologically be possible. The author also explains how a computer works (the 0/1 stuff, as well as some Assembly language program examples). As it's an introductory text for both CS students and philosophy students, it's understandable the author explains the basic things from each area as well.
Chapter 5: A hard look at the facts
How plausible is it to think that computers can be programmed to think? In this chapter, the author critically evaluates the then-existing AI projects, specifically the GPS and Shrdlu (see chapter 2), but also the other projects. He says that work ceased on the GPS in 1966, something that was not made clear in the 2nd chapter (and this book is from 1993!). There were dates missing from the projects in the 2nd chapter, so I thought by 1993 all those projects were still being worked on... In this chapter he also comments on the opening quote by Fredkin: "Ed Fredkin's vision of the future is pure science fiction. it is disquieting to find the manager of the MIT AI Lab engaging in absurd flights of fancy during a supposedly serious and informative television interview."
This chapter also talks about the things a computer would need to know to function in the real world to interact intelligently with humans. He mentions a prediction by Doug Lenat: "His optimistic prediction is that by 2015 no one 'would dream of buying a machine without common sense, any more than anyone today would buy a personal computer that couldn't run spreadsheets and word processing programs'." Why I am reminded of the "I, Robot" book XD Though 2015 is still in the future now as well and not in the current past.
Chapter 6: The curious case of the Chinese room
First the author explains the Chinese room experiment and then goes on to describe what's wrong with the argument. A little bit about Turing machines as well.
Chapter 7: Freedom
About whether or not a computer can make free choices. And is free will in humans really free will? The author argues that humans have free will and computers can also have free will. Following from this discussion about free will, the author also writes about discussions on determinism and related concepts (like predictability and chaos theory).
Chapter 8: Consciousness
About consciousness, as the chapter title says. Apparently, not a lot of research on this topic has been done in psychology. The author wants to convey that machine consciousness is not an impossibility. One thing I thought was interesting was that the author writes "nor do we know how the brain recognises faces", while in a previous course I've done (the last 2.5 months) there were a lot of articles about research on how the brain recognises faces XD Guess the author would use a different example if he'd write this book now instead of 19 years ago.
Chapter 9: Are we computers?
The author described the discussion from different viewpoints, as well as the relation of neurons to bits (the electrical signals). The author notes that normal computers (in 1993) process things sequentially, while the brain processes things in a parallel way. There's also some talk about where humans store their memories in the brain and how they retrieve them (as well as how computers store data and how that data can be retrieved). The chapter also talks about the Symbol System Hypothesis and the Strong SSH.
Chapter 10: AI's fresh start: parallel distributed processing
The longest chapter in the book. About neural networks, though in this chapter it's called "parallel distributed processing" and "connectionism". There's also a part about how cognitive processes work in the brain and whether or not they're recreatable on computers. Near the end it got a bit less interesting to read, but maybe that was also because I just wanted to finish reading the book...

Writing style:
I liked his word usage and the way he writes his sentences. The author does write in a way that he is talking to the reader and he explains everything very clearly, in small steps, but not too easy (which is nice).
While the font is not that great, especially not the italics, the sentences read easily.
First edition, so I did see a typo (missing space between 'usingthe' in chapter 3 page 36).

For my exam.

Edited: Apr 30, 2012, 6:33pm Top

This review can also be found on my weblog here.

Title: Aspergirls - Een wegwijzer voor meisjes en vrouwen met het syndroom van Asperger ("Aspergirls - Empowering Females With Asperger Syndrome")
Author: Rudy Simone
Series: no, though the author has written more books on the topic of Asperger's Syndrome
Format: paperback
Pages: 240
Year published: original 2010, my edition 2010
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9789079729289
Reason for reading: I borrowed it from a friend, who bought the book to get more information on Asperger's syndrome in women.

Back cover text:
Vrouwen worden minder vaak dan mannen gediagnosticeerd met het syndroom van Asperger. Niet alleen omdat Asperger minder voorkomt bij vrouwen, maar ook omdat de kenmerken bij vrouwen anders worden waargenomen. Bovendien kunnen vrouwen de symptomen beter maskeren.
Dat de diagnose minder vaak wordt gesteld, betekent helaas dat veel vrouwen met Asperger niet of nauwelijks worden begrepen. Door zichzelf, maar ook door hun omgeving. En als de diagnose uiteindelijk is gesteld, dan is er meestal weinig hulp en informatie voor handen.
Daar komt met Aspergirls gelukkig verandering in. Aan de hand van persoonlijke verhalen van meer dan 35 vrouwen met Asperger bespreekt Rudy Simone alle aspecten van het leven: van vreemde talenten en eerste gevoelens van schuld en schaamte tot vriendschap en romantiek. Van pubertijd en school tot werk en carrière. Van rituelen, emoties en woedeaanvallen tot gezondheid, kinderen krijgen en ouder worden. De humorvolle, liefdevolle en respectvolle wijze waarop Simone over deze onderwerpen schrijft, zullen Aspergirls van alle leeftijden tot grote steun zijn.
Aspergirls is daadwerkelijk een bijzonder boek. Het maakt duidelijk waarin vrouwen met Asperger verschillen van vrouwen die niet op het spectrum zitten. Het boek draagt daardoor niet alleen bij aan een groter begrip, maar het laat ook zien hoe bijzonder Aspergirls zijn.
Aspergirls is een feest der herkenning voor elke vrouw met Asperger. Het boek is echt ook zeer geschikt voor ouders, partners én professionals.

First paragraph of the introduction (skipping the foreword):
Vrouwen die aan een autismespectrumstoornis lijden vormen een subcultuur binnen een subcultuur. We delen dezelfde eigenaardigheden, problemen, gewoonten, trekjes en opvattingen met autistische mannen, maar we geven er een eigen draai aan. het is niet zozeer dat het syndroom van Asperger of aspergersyndroom (AS) op een andere manier optreedt bij meisjes en vrouwen, maar het wordt anders waargenomen en daarom vaak niet herkend.

In the introduction, the author talks about the difference between the amount of diagnoses between men and women, as well as a bit about what can happen to people who discover in the 40s/50s that they have AS.
Chapter 1: Verbeeldingskracht, jezelf leren lezen en speciale vermogens, en ongebruikelijke interesses
What is the comma after "vermogens" doing there :P ? As 'en ongebruikelijke interesses' is on a new line, I think it can be left out... Anyway, this chapter talks about why people/girls with AS are so interested in (factual) information and that they generally also taught themselves things like how to read or how to play an instrument, for example, but that's not so in all cases. She also writes that the interests of AS-girls seem much more normal than of most men with AS, but that they can also be so busy doing something they forget to eat/wash/etc. The chapter ends with tips for AS girls and parents.
Chapter 2: Waarom slimme meisjes soms een hekel hebben aan school
About why smart girls sometimes hate school (boring, being bullied, social activities). Quite a lot about bullying, because that happened to many AS girls the author interviewed (and also to herself). There's also a bit about IEPs (Individualized Education Programs, which are obligatory in the US for handicapped students) - never heard of it, but it's probably relevant information for American readers. There's a reference to the author's other book "Asperger's on the job", listed with the English title - this book has been translated into Dutch in 2012 and is called "Werken met Asperger" (I also borrowed that one from my friend). This chapter also ends with tips for AS girls and parents, so I won't note it for the upcoming chapters anymore, as it's like that for all chapters.
Chapter 3: Overprikkeling
About hypersensitivity, problems with filtering outside information. There's also a paragraph about 'paranormal sensitivity', which is being related to the hypersensitivity (also the 'prophetic dreams'/deja-vu are mentioned, but that seems to be a random mention as it's not really related to the rest of the paragraph...).
Chapter 4: Zelfstimulerend gedrag en wat we doen wanneer we gelukkig zijn
The translator conveniently mentions the English word for 'zelfstimulerend gedrag': "stimming". It means what AS people do to calm themselves when they're angry, scared, happy or have gotten too many stimuli. The examples of what people do are mostly taken from the interviews the author did - I saw some correspondences with the descriptions of autism in the other books I read lately, but this one is really written about/for women: some things are more socially acceptable for women than for men.
Chapter 5: Over verwijten en het internaliseren van schuldgevoelens
About social problems - what if people don't understand that a girl has AS.
Chapter 6: Genderrollen en identiteit
About stereotypes for men/women. Men with AS have more 'womenly characteristics', while AS women have more characteristics normally associated with men. From women, different things are expected - for example spending more time on 'making yourself pretty' (make-up, shoes, clothes). I thought this was an interesting chapter, but I have quite a few friends who do not use make-up and agree that there are better ways to spend your money than on hundreds of shoes :P I think that this book could have been thicker, with more information, but that it was written more like a way to list characteristics of females with AS. The chapters are a bit too short to be really informative - but maybe I was just expecting a more research-oriented book, while this is more of a 'self-help' book. There was also a bit about "having the feeling that 'you' (AS people) don't belong in this world", which sounded like something you could write more about, but the author just wrote that an explanation didn't exist for this.
Chapter 7: Puberteit en mutisme
About puberty - problems that can arise when menstruation starts, as well as quite a few pages about mutism (inability to speak). The author herself has had a lot of problems with mutism, so she described her own experiences here.
Chapter 8: Aantrekkingskracht, uitgaan, seks en relaties
The chapter starts with that AS girls can become obsessed with people (when they're in love), or that they don't know how exactly to behave according to social expectations (not calling the boy 12 times in one evening to check if he's home, for example - when cell phones weren't common yet). AS girls don't seem to be very self-confident, which also causes problems. There's also a bit about not using commercial shampoos/products and that you can smell (stink) a bit because of that - I think you can still smell good (at least, not stink) even when you don't use perfumed products :P (and if you don't want to use certain shampoos because there are 'dangerous chemicals' in them (which is the reason the book mentioned), I've also come across a lot of alternatives on the internet (about which I started reading mostly because of my perfume-allergy): making shampoo/soap yourself, shampoo and such from the organic store (or specific brands which don't add unneccesary chemicals to their products), the baking soda story, vinegar/tea rinses, "water-only" washing, etc).
Chapter 9: Vriendschappen en sociale omgang
More than men, women are expected to have a lot of social relationships/friends, but that's not really the case for AS girls. This chapter is about the amount of friends AS women have, and the way they interact with them. There's also a bit about online activities/friends, which I think should indeed be included as this book was written in 2010 :P
Chapter 10: Universiteit en hogeschool
About problems and good things a girl with AS can encounter when studying at a university or college. Not a lot of surprising things in this chapter.
Chapter 11: Werk en carrière
About work and a career. The author mentions in this chapter that a 'psychometric test' or 'personality test' is obligatory when people want to get a job. I've heard about an obligatory IQ test here in the Netherlands (only one case though), about which I recently heard that it would be illegal to make such a test obligatory (I don't know the detals), but I've never heard about personality tests here... Might be only in the US?
Chapter 12: Het huwelijk en samenwonen
This chapter mostly describes situations from interviews and the author's own life about marriage and living together. What I do miss a bit in this chapter that it's also possible to live together without marrying (and more socially accepted, at least in the Netherlands; maybe not in America, so the author didn't write about it). My singing teacher married after more than 35 years of living together with her boyfriend, because it would have financial benefits, but otherwise she wouldn't have married at all.
Chapter 13: Kinderen krijgen
The chapter starts with the author's own experiences (her daughter doesn't have AS) and some experiences from other people.
Chapter 14: Rituelen, vaste gewoonten, logisch en letterlijk denken, gebrek aan tact, empathie en niet begrepen worden
About 'rituals' doing things in a fixed order), understanding things literally, saying things directly (which is not always appropriate for the situation), empathy (women with AS can feel empathy, but it can be too strong and gradually they learn to 'shut it off'), and also that they can talk too much because they don't see the use of listening.
Chapter 15: Diagnoses, verkeerde diagnoses en medicatie
I think this chapter should really have moved to the front, maybe this should even be chapter 1... It's about other diagnoses people have gotten (actuallly, most of this chapter consists of the author's or the people-she-has-interviewed's experiences). Also some (negative) stories about what doctors have said ("No medicine will help, except if you take a lot of them, and you'll eventually cut your wrists anyway"), so the advice the author gives is to call a doctor in advance to check a bit what he/she thinks and knows about AS.
Chapter 16: Aanvallen van depressie, PTSS en meer over medicijnen
About medicines, PTSS (post-traumatic stress disorder) and depression. Also advice about anti-depression medicines, as well as non-medicine suggestions about what you can do when you're depressed or feel a depression starting.
Chapter 17: Woedeaanvallen
That anger is more socially accepted for men and why AS women get "anger attacks".
Chapter 18: Bruggen verbranden
An odd title, "burning bridges", but it means that 'you' leave something behind to start anew (and then really moving to another city to start anew, according to the author's experiences, as well of the people she interviewed).
Chapter 19: Maag- en darmproblemen en autisme
About the theory that autism is caused by damaged digestive organs and about diets for people with autism ('gluten and casein free diet' and 'specific carbohydrate diet'). The people the author interviewed (she herself included) did have problems with some kinds of food and had stomach- or intestine-problems. There's no definitive proof that the diets work, though the author does suggest to remove processed food and chemical additives from your diet and eat as fresh as possible. I think it's a good idea anyway to eat as healthy as possible :P In the books about E-numbers (food additives) I've read, they also list a lot of other things as being caused (or at least intensified) by certain food additives. For the Dutch people: the book "E=eetbaar?" by J. Kamsteeg (ISBN 9789023010678) contains lists of E-number for several health problems (for example asthma and eczema), and the newer book "Wat zit er in uw eten?" (by Corinne Gouget, ISBN 9789077788288) lists a few health problems next to the E-numbers (but not very many, that book is mostly concerned about the toxicity) - the second book is a lot smaller and meant to take with you, the first one really is an extensive reference book.
Chapter 20: Ouder worden
About the positive aspects of becoming older (55+ age), but also about problems.
Chapter 21: Over de vraag of het syndroom van Asperger een handicap of een gave is, en advies van Aspergirls aan Aspergirls
About the question if AS is a handicap or a gift (opinions differ). Also contains tips from women with AS for women with AS. I think a lot of those are good tips generally anyway!
Chapter 22: Geef je Aspergirl wat ze nodig heeft
A chapter for parents, specifically for the parents reading this book. It contains the most important points the author wants to convey to parents.
Chapter 23: Overdenkingen en adviezen van ouders van Aspergirls
Advice from parents with a daughter with AS, for other parents. The author conducted an interview with someone who leads a helpgroup for adults with AS, who knows about this topic (as the author doesn't have a daughter with AS herself).

The book ends with a list of characteristics of women with AS, which is a good summary of the book, followed by a list of differences between men and women with AS, and ending with a list of websites (two Dutch websites have been added to the American websites). The lists can also be found on the author's website (here and here).

Writing style:
It is written by an author with AS for people with AS, so she writes a lot in the "we"-form. Her own text is interspersed with quotes (mostly only a few lines) from other people she interviewed. The quotes are accompanied by names, which sound like "forum names" to me.
The translator changed some things to a Netherlands-specific situation, for example "Maan Roos Vis" in chapter 2 (the words most children learn first when learning to read at school), "Mulisch" (a Dutch literature author; also in chapter 2), "Mega-Mindy" (Belgian/Flemish superhero character; chapter 9). I think that's good, because most people reading this book might not check the author's country of origin.
It's a first edition, so I did come across some typos (I already emailed the publisher about them, also about the comma in the chapter 1 title XD):
-"...was. ik moest..." (ik = Ik) on page 20 (chapter 1)
-"...aan kou e daarom..." (e = en) on page 39 (chapter 3)
-"...daarin een belangerijke rol..." (belangerijke = belangrijke) on page 109 (chapter 10)
-"...dat je hun iets over AS bijbrengt..." (hun = hen) on page 116 (chapter 10); though this might be a regional/dialectical difference
-"Niet iedere Aspergirls..." (Aspergirls = Aspergirl) on page 124 (chapter 11)
-At the bottom of page 195 (chapter 18) there's a quote which has not been typeset as a quote.
-"..dat als autisme..." = "...dat als je autisme..." (missing 'je') on page 212 (chapter 21)
-"...ook als is deze..." (als = al) on page 225 (chapter 23)

I think it's a book that you'd read once entirely, but for the rest use it as a reference and only read parts of it. I don't know if I'm going to read it again, but I think it's a good book to read if you're interested in reading about Asperger's Syndrome (or know someone with AS), so I would recommend it even though it's not that extensive in information.

Edited: May 1, 2012, 12:30pm Top

This review can also be found on my weblog here.

Title: Werken met Asperger - Tips & tools voor mensen met Asperger, collega's en werkgevers ("Asperger's on the job - Must-have Advice for People with Asperger's or High Functioning Autism, and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates"; on Librarything)
Author: Rudy Simone
Series: no, but the author has written more books about Asperger's
Reviews for other books by this author (up till now): Aspergirls
Format: paperback
Pages: 160
Year published: original 2010, my edition 2012 (first Dutch edition)
Language: Dutch (original = English)
ISBN number: 9789079729579
Reason for reading: I borrowed it from a friend.

Back cover text:
Een betaalde baan vinden en houden is voor veel mensen met Asperger lastig. Dat heeft meestal niets te maken met de kwaliteit van hun werk, maar met het feit dat een baan uit meer bestaat dan het uitvoeren van taken. Sociale contacten met collega's en leidinggevenden horen er ook bij, net als de ongeschreven regels van de bedrijfscultuur en subtiele politieke spelletjes. Mensen met Asperger hebben daar vaak grote moeite mee. Gecombineerd met hun eerlijkheid, perfectionisme en sensorische overgevoeligheid leidt dit tot allerlei frustraties en misverstanden.
In Werken met Asperger legt Rudy Simone uit waarom en wanneer het misgaat bij werknemers met Asperger. In korte en overzichtelijke hoofdstukken licht ze veelvoorkomende problemen toe: van zintuiglijke overprikkeling tot miscommunicatie in lichaamstaal en pesten. Meer dan vijftig ervaringsdeskundigen met het syndroom van Asperger geven talloze, pijnlijk herkenbare voorbeelden van sociaal ongemak op de werkvloer.
Met een voorwoord van Temple Grandin:
"Als ik dit boek dertig jaar geleden had gelezen, had ik ontzettend veel problemen op mijn werk kunnen voorkomen. Ik geloof oprecht dat dit boek mensen met een autismespectrumstoornis helpt om de baan te vinden die ze verdienen - en die baan te houden."
Werken met Asperger is een praktische en waardevolle bron van informatie voor mensen met Asperger én hun collega's, werkgevers en coaches. Het biedt niet alleen inzicht in mogelijke problemen en misverstanden, maar ook handvatten om juist optimaal gebruik te maken van de sterke kanten van mensen met Asperger.

First paragraph from the introduction (skipping the foreword):
Toen ik onderzoek deed voor mijn boek 22 Things a Woman Must Know If She Loves a Man With Asperger's Syndrome (2009), stuitte ik op een terugkerend thema: de meerderheid van de volwassenen met Asperger die ik sprak, had grote moeite om te kost te verdienen. De meesten waren werkloos of arbeidsongeschikt, sommigen werden nog steeds door hun ouders onderhouden, anderen redden het alleen omdat ze getrouwd waren met iemand met een goed inkomen en een goede zorgverzekering. Velen werkten als zelfstandige, sommigen met succes, maar de meesten in die categorie waren manusjes-van-alles die hun kostje bij elkaar scharrelden met uiteenlopende baantjes. Hun ervaringen vormden een weerspiegeling van die van mezelf; ik dacht altijd dat ik de enige was die, ondanks mijn vele toepasbare talenten, niet in de wereld van de voltijdbanen paste. Dit heeft elk aspect van mijn leven gekleurd en is van negatieve invloed op mijn eigenwaarden, financiën, relaties en gezondheid geweest. Ik ging op onderzoek uit en zette alle factoren op een rij die medebepalend waren voor het succes van een werkervaring, zowel voor de werkgever als voor de werknemer met Asperger.

Chapter 1: Waarom zou je iemand met Asperger in dienst nemen?
Mostly for employers - about the question why someone would hire someone with AS.
Chapter 2: Het belang van geloven
For both employers and employees - an introductory chapter roughly describing how AS people can behave at work.
Chapter 3: De grote gevolgen van smalltalk
About the problems of joining in social 'smalltalk' at work. A funny thing was that the two Chinese characters for "nihao" were printed in the book with the subtext "If Mandarin isn't your mothertongue, you won't know this character." When browsing the book, I was like 'Hey, what's 'nihao' doing there? Oh wait...' XD (I don't really know Chinese, I can only read about half of it because I can read Japanese and only of a dozen-or-so words I know the Chinese pronuncation, not even with the correct tones). I think a more unknown script like Thai might be better to use instead of Chinese :P Even though there are still quite a lot of Thai speakers, the language is not as widely studied as Chinese.
Chapter 4: Botheid, perfectionisme en de beruchte Asperger-arrogantie
About that AS people say the truth without concealing it with nice words, that they're perfectionists and that might also be why they seem to complain a lot at work. It's a really short chapter (4 pages)
Chapter 5: Blunders, grenzen en emotionele afstandelijkheid
Some more about social interaction problems at work.
Chapter 6: Lege ruimte niet invullen a.u.b.
About (lack of) facial expressions in people with AS, as well as a bit about body language.
Chapter 7: Stilte a.u.b.
About being distracted by noises at work (both loud and soft-and-continuous and such).
Chapter 8: Visuele overprikkeling en andere zintuiglijke problemen
About visual things that can distract from the job. Also about temperature, smell and chemical problems. Chemical ingredients in cleaning products, 'air refresheners' and furniture are seen as environmental factors causing autism. The author notes that it's best for all employees if toxic things are kept to a minimum (...which sounds so very logical...).
Chapter 9: Echt, ik heb Asperger
About deadlines and flexible work hours.
Chapter 10: Polyester gevangenissen, te strakke stropdassen en de hoge-hakkenhel
About appropriate clothing to wear to the job. One of the interviewed women with AS said it was obligatory to wear high heels to her job... which is really bad for your muscles - my mother's grandmother had worn high heels all her life and then she also needed slippers with high heels (I think they were about 5 cm heels). She couldn't wear normal shoes anymore because her muscles in her lower legs had shortened. The author also notes that some people with AS like uniforms because then they can skip the 'make a choice about clothing' process. When I went to high school in Japan, where I had to wear a uniform, I indeed thought it was easy that the school prescribed the clothing you had to wear (though the fixed-date "season changes" were a bit stupid - after switching to winter uniform because a certain date had passed, it could still be warm! But it might be the best solution anyway because the weather can be quite unpredictable). The Japanese exchange students who came to high school in the Netherlands, said that at first they liked that they could wear normal clothes to school, but after a few weeks or months (differed), they wished the Dutch school had uniforms too, because making a clothing choice each day was apparently not something they still liked. I think it might also be because of what you're used to, as the general opinion in Dutch schools is that there shouldn't be uniforms at school (though there are people who think it might be better) - though that discussion isn't really related to this book, I think :P
Chapter 11: Met een beetje R&R kom je een heel eind: rituelen en routine
About taking control over things and sudden changes at work.
Chapter 12: Niet zeggen van wie je het hebt, maar...
About backbiting (Dutch: roddelen) at work.
Chapter 13: De hoge prijs van laag gedrag
About bullying at work. The author wrote that 37% of the Americans is bullied at work. The translator added a sentence about the situation in the Netherlands: about 10%.
Chapter 14: De kracht van complimenten
For employers - about giving compliments.
Chapter 15: Werken met aangeboren talenten en interesses
About doing a job that makes use of the things the person with AS is good at.
Chapter 16: Asperger en psychologische tests
About the personality tests people can get when they apply for a job. As I mentioned in my review of "Aspergirls", this might be very US-specific? I don't know actually... I've never heard of it here in the Netherlands (or I'm just not in a field or never applied for jobs where you have to do a personality test...).
Chapter 17: Asperger en opleiding: een ongelukkige liefde?
About different education paths people with AS have/can follow(ed) - no higher education or a lot of it, etc.
Chapter 18: Vertellen of niet vertellen, dat is de vraag
About the reasons for the employee whether to tell their employer about their AS or not.
Chapter 19: 'Doei, doei,' zei het zwarte schaap: hoed je voor de tegenaanval
About reasons why AS people call in sick or stay away from their work. Also tips for if you want to stop with your job.
Chapter 20: De weg naar succes
Very short summary of the book, followed by a list of tips to get 'your perfect job', as well as a list for tips when you go to apply for a job. That last list contains things that might be useful for everyone, I think.

Writing style:
Very short chapters, quick reading.
First edition, so again a typo :P (and again, I already emailed the publisher XD I got a very quick reply to my mail with errors in the Aspergirls book)
-Last word in the first paragraph on page 93 (chapter 13), 'werkplan', should also be in italics.

I'll probably won't re-read it, but it was interesting to read and I would recommend it if you're interested in the topic.

May 1, 2012, 4:46pm Top

Hi Selene
There plenty of jobs here where personality and other tests are usual.
A neighbor recently applied for a rather simple job in security services, she got TWO days of testing: including personality test, intelligence test, endurance test and some others.

May 1, 2012, 7:05pm Top

Ah, then the jobs I've applied for probably didn't think such tests were necessary!

I'm going to talk at a company to apply for an internship next Monday... I wonder what they'll say :P Though the example question of a personality test in the last book made me think "wouldn't many people just answer which answer they think would fit the company best?"...

May 2, 2012, 4:07pm Top

wouldn't many people just answer which answer they think would fit the company best?
Yes, probably, but a good test anticipates that ;-)

May 9, 2012, 10:57am Top

Review originally posted at my weblog here: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/78878.html

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Omnitopia Dawn
Author: Diane Duane
Language: English
Series: Omnitopia #1
Format: paperback
Pages: 381 (392 when you count the preview chapter from book 2 as well)
Publisher: DAW books
Year published: original 2010, my edition 2011
ISBN number: 9780756406783
Topic of the book: Science fiction, online multiplayer game (MMORPG)
Reason for reading: I saw the book on the author's weblog and it sounded quite interesting - I don't play online multiplayer games, but the concept of the book sounded interesting. Also, I really like Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series and I was interested in reading a non-YW book by her sometime too (so I bought it as it wasn't very expensive - yay for English paperbacks XD).

Back cover text:
In the virtual twenty-first century multiplayer on-line games have become one of the most popular forms of entertainment. And the most popular gaming universe of all is Omnitopia, created by genius programmer Dev Logan.
For millions of people around the world, Omnitopia is an obsession, a passionate pastime, almost a way of life. Omnitopia is a virtual place where dreams come true - players can create their own universes within the game's structure and participate in the profits if their piece of the universe is a hit. Ten million players routinely play in Omnitopia, and at any given time, nearly a million of them are on-line, living in a world more real to them than their own.
Now Dev and his people are preparing to roll out a major new expansion to the Omnitopia system. And even as players, staff, the media, and the heavy hitters on the world financial scene wait eagerly for this fast-approaching and momentous event, there are others preparing to play a very different game - one that is meant to strike at the heart of Omnitopia and bring the entire system crashing down...

Comments on the back cover text:
Normally I don't really read back cover texts before I start reading the book, but this time I did (online, though, as I ordered the book from a website). I think it explains the main point of the plot quite well (though why is there a hyphen inbetween "on-line"?). There are also some comments from Booklist and Publishers Weekly on the back cover, but I never copy those into my reviews (as some people might have noticed XD) - Booklist mentions "World of Warcraft", which is of course one of the online games I thought of as well, but I must say Omnitopia sounds more interesting to play (I've seen people at university play WoW and at one of my courses in the Computer Science bachelor there was a guest speaker who came to talk about online multiplayer games where he also showed a lot of gameplay-WoW-movies - he was very enthousiastic about those games, but I didn't get the urge to play them).

First paragraph of the prologue:
Rik Maliani stepped out of nothingness into the narrow cobbled confines of Troker's Lane, overhung on each side by ancient half-timbered houses... and as his second step went squish, he realized he'd just put his left foot down right in the middle of a turd.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The people of Omnitopia have created a RealFeel interface where you also get the smells of things in the game (and touch and taste and such). Of course the first thing you'd then think is that you'd also smell all the poop and stinky things XD I thought it was very funny that the prologue started with that! Rik is one of the players of Omnitopia and there are chapters from his viewpoint, but also from the viewpoint of Dev (owner of Omnitopia) and other characters, so you get to see many sides of the story.

Most of the story was about the events before the roll-out of the game's expansion, the people who want to destroy Omnitopia and things about the game itself. The plot doesn't seem to advance very quickly when you're reading, but actually quite a lot of things are happening. I kept expecting in-game cross-overs with the Young Wizards universe at the beginning, though :P Because at the beginning, there's a lot of talk about all those existing worlds within Omnitopia... Or just hints for readers who had also read the YW books. But maybe it's good not to have cross-overs to your other series when you're already quite known for that?
What I also thought was interesting, was the visualization of the programming language used to build Omnitopia, which enabled people who didn't really know a programming language to build their own world anyway.
A funny thing was that last Tuesday morning I had an exam about AI (about this book) and one of the questions was if machines could be(come) conscious and could think, and then after the exam I read the part in this Omnitopia book that gave a really nice answer XD
I also seem to remember reading somewhere in the book that it took place in 2015... but then Queen Catherina-Amalia (of the Netherlands) appears in the book as a young woman and in 2015 her grandmother or her father would be queen/king, not she herself... So maybe I misremembered the date (>.>) But still, Dutch things in American books amuse me XD (though, well, why not just write the really Dutch 'stroopwafel' instead of 'stroopwaffel'?)
It is the first book in a series, though it can be read as a stand-alone book without reading the next book. The preview chapter made me curious about the next book, though :P

Writing style:
The author can really describe visual things well, which I like.
It's written from a third-person viewpoint, but also interspersed with the thoughts of the viewpoint-person at that moment. The viewpoint character switches to different characters throughout the book, but it's always clear who is the viewpoint character.
I thought it was easy to read, but if you've read any YW books, it's very comparable :)

Spelling errors/typos:
Page 55, 6th line: Rik said (missing dot after 'said')
Page 58 10th line: It sounds, complicated (comma after 'sounds' can be removed)
Page 89: "Ooh, corporatespeak, Dev said. (missing " after 'corporatespeak,')

I thought the topic was very interesting and I liked the story around it as well :) I would recommend it to people who are at least a bit interesting in online games (even when you don't play them) or people who like Diane Duane's books XD

Yes, this is a book I'd re-read!

Related links:
-Diane Duane's official site
-Her weblog on Dreamwidth: http://dduane.dreamwidth.org/
-The AI book I mentioned: Artificial Intelligence - A philosophical introduction by Jack Copeland (review)

Edited: May 10, 2012, 3:29pm Top

//Dutch review, as I don't see this book being translated into another language anytime soon. The book is originally written in Dutch.

Titel: Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging
Auteur: Marian van den Beuken
Serie: Ankertjesserie 271
Formaat: paperback
Pagina's: 96
Uitgever: Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes bv, Deventer
Jaar van publicatie: origineel 2002, mijn editie 2004
Taal: Nederlands
ISBN-nummer: 9020201441
Bookcrossing ID: 11120334
Onderwerp van het boek: hooggevoeligheid, HSP
Waarom ging ik het lezen: Ik wilde wel wat meer boeken over HSP lezen en sparrowbunny had nog twee dunne Nederlandse boekjes van deze auteur liggen.
Aanrader: Voor mensen die misschien iets meer willen weten over hoe het is om met hooggevoeligheid te leven, aangezien de auteur vooral haar eigen ervaringen beschrijft. Ik weet echter niet zeker of het 't beste "HSP-introductie-boek" is (zie mijn opmerkingen bij 'Conclusie' hieronder).

Ieder mens is gevoelig. De een wat meer dan de ander. Gevoeligheid wordt niet altijd gewaardeerd. Daar kunnen de mensen die extreem gevoelig zijn voor drukte, geluid, stress en emoties van anderen over meepraten. Vaak ervaren zij die gevoeligheid zelf als een last en door hun omgeving worden ze nogal eens voor zeurpiet of softie versleten. De uitdaging waar je als (hoog)gevoelig mens voor staat, is je eigenheid te erkennen, te accepteren, lief te hebben en te vieren; inzien wat voor een prachtig mens je bent. Jezelf geven wat je nodig hebt om te kunnen stralen en daar duidelijk over zijn naar anderen.
Eindelijk informatie over een talentvolle groep mensen die in deze snelle en luidruchtige samenleving extra kwetsbaar is. Marian van den Beuken wil dit onderwerp onder de aandacht brengen en de positieve kanten ervan belichten. Zij wil bereiken dat hooggevoelige mensen en anderen meer zicht krijgen op de speciale gave die hooggevoeligheid is: een bron van tedere kracht en levenslust.
Praktische tips om goed met hooggevoeligheid om te kunnen gaan
Marian van den Beuken is werkzaam als coach en trainer. Ze kent hooggevoeligheid vanuit haar eigen ervaring en vanuit haar werk. Ze gaf onder meer een e-mailnieuwsbrief uit over dit thema. Haar motto is: 'Alleen de liefde telt; de rest doet er niet toe.'

Eerste alinea:
Een op de vijf mensen van de wereldbevolking is hooggevoelig. Een op de vijf mensen is geboren met speciale antennes om subtiele signalen en prikkels uit hun omgeving te registreren. Het is een gave waardoor zij meer en intenser kunnen waarnemen dan anderen, gevaren eerder signaleren, eerder voelen waar iets niet klopt, sneller weten waar mensen in hun omgeving behoefte aan hebben.

Over de eerste alinea:
De eerste alinea was heel erg kort, maar ik vond het wel interessant genoeg om te willen weten wat Marian van den Beuken verder over het verschijnsel zou gaan vertellen.

Ik ga het niet over elk hoofdstuk apart hebben, want het zijn veel korte hoofdstukjes (ook van maar 2 pagina's) en per hoofdstuk bespreken vind ik in dit geval niet zo nuttig :P
De auteur begint met een introductie over de inhoud van het boek en noemt ook een paar boeken die zij heeft gebruikt als bron. Ook uit haar eigen Nederlandse HSP nieuwsbrief (heeft twee jaar bestaan) heeft ze veel dingen in dit boekje gebruikt. Daarna een stukje over haarzelf en een uitleg over wat hooggevoeligheid precies is. Best wel veel ook over burn-out enzo aan het begin, teveel prikkels binnenkrijgen etc, maar daar moet het boekje waarschijnlijk ook wel mee beginnen aangezien het doel is 'hoe leer je omgang met hooggevoeligheid in een drukke wereld'.
Er is ook een hoofdstukje over hooggevoeligheid in relatie tot 'nieuwetijdskinderen'. Een stukje uit de nieuwsbrief, zonder bron (die ik in dit geval wel graag gezien zou hebben!), zegt: "Vooral de laatste twintig jaar worden zeer gevoelige mensen geboren, veelal honderd procent paranormaal (onterecht ADHD gediagnosticeerd), met enorm veel allergieën. Ze hebben vaak problemen op school, willen en kunnen zich niet aanpassen, intuïtief als ze zijn. Veel HSP's zullen hieronder vallen. Uit onderzoek blijkt dat hun DNA anders is."
Dit stukje is waarschijnlijk geschreven door een lezer van de nieuwsbrief, maar de auteur heeft het zomaar opgenomen in haar boek zonder er verder commentaar bij te geven. Ik denk dat die "laatste twintig jaar" vooral komt doordat het nu allemaal zo in de aandacht staat (net zoals er een periode was dat iedereen ineens de diagnoses ADHD en autisme kreeg - naar mijn mening bestonden deze dingen gewoon al langer maar hebben ze nu allemaal een naam en definitie gekregen). Ook is '100% paranormaal' wel een beetje vreemd... Dan is zo'n persoon dus NIETS anders dan paranormaal? Combineer dat met 'ander DNA' en je hebt geen mensen meer...? Die wel uit mensen geboren worden :P ?
Het verhaal van "veel allergiën" heeft misschien wel een andere, logischere oorzaak, al weet ik dat ook niet zeker natuurlijk: blootstelling aan allerlei chemische stoffen/vervuiling waar mensen eigenlijk misschien toch niet zo goed tegenkunnen (ik hoorde laatst dat het menselijk lichaam aangepast is op hoe de situatie 15000 jaar geleden was, dus over 15000 jaar is het menselijk lichaam aangepast aan de wereld waar we nu leven - of dit zo is weet ik niet, maar evolutie gaat niet zo snel dus er zal wel een kern van waarheid inzitten :P). En volgens alle HSP-boekjes en sites op internet is 20% van de mensen hooggevoelig. Dus dan zou 20% van de mensen ander DNA hebben...? Dus ja, bronnen graag, anonieme lezer van de HSP-nieuwsbrief :P Ik denk dat de auteur er beter aan gedaan zou hebben om deze vage alinea niet op te nemen, of anders een uitleg of bronnen er aan toe te voegen.
Maar goed, verder vond ik het wel een goed boekje - de auteur beschrijft vooral haar eigen ervaringen met HSP-zijn en geeft ook tips (waar zij zelf wat aan heeft gehad en die een lezer dus eventueel ook kan gebruiken).

De doelgroep is wel meer hooggevoelige mensen, al is het niet heel erg specifiek aan een hooggevoelige lezer gericht (sommige stukjes wel, maar meestal niet) en is het dus ook goed te lezen voor andere mensen. Het meeste schrijft de auteur vanuit zichzelf en over haar eigen ervaringen en wat ze zelf over dingen denkt.
De auteur gebruikt korte zinnen en het leest best wel snel. Tussendoor staan stukjes schuingedrukte tekst uit (vooral) de nieuwsbrief, evenals een paar gedichten (niet zo veel) enzo.

In de links op pagina 96 staat 'hypersenstive' i.p.v. 'hypersensitive'.

Het is vooral een boekje met de ervaringen van de auteur, aangevuld met wat ervaringen van anderen. Het geeft wel een redelijke indruk van wat HSP-zijn inhoudt, al vraag ik me wel af of het goed boek is om als eerste te lezen over dit onderwerp - dat denk ik namelijk niet. Het geeft namelijk niet zoveel informatie over HSP-zijn en ik vond het persoonlijk iets 'zweveriger' klinken dan het boek van Elaine Aron dat ik heb gelezen (zie hieronder bij 'Links'), maar dat is waarschijnlijk ook zo omdat Arons boek over het opvoeden van kinderen ging en daar dus veel praktijktips bij kwamen kijken. Het is bij lange na niet het zweverigste boek wat ik heb gelezen, alleen een paar dingen over "aarden/gronden" en meditatie/visualisatie en aura's (zijdelings) kwamen langs. Redelijk normaal allemaal nog eigenlijk dus :P Er werd namelijk ook geen nadruk op gelegd.

Ik vind het persoonlijk meer een boekje om door te geven aan andere mensen om te lezen en niet zelf te herlezen, maar ik heb ook nog het tweede boekje van deze auteur liggen dus die ga ik ook nog lezen. Ik ga sparrowbunny's suggestie gewoon opvolgen en er een Bookcrossingboek van maken, zodat meer mensen het kunnen lezen :)

-De auteur zegt in haar introductie dat veel informatie afkomstig is uit de boeken van Elaine Aron. Van Aron heb ik één boek gelezen, "Het hoog sensitieve kind".

May 11, 2012, 4:58am Top

//Dutch review, as I don't see this book being translated into another language anytime soon. The book is originally written in Dutch.

Titel: Hooggevoeligheid als levenskunst
Auteur: Marian van den Beuken
Serie: Ankertjesserie 283
Recensies van andere boeken in deze serie (tot nu toe): Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging van Marian van Beuken
Formaat: paperback
Pagina's: 96
Uitgever: Uitgeverij Ankh-Hermes bv, Deventer
Jaar van publicatie: origineel 2003, mijn editie 2004
Taal: Nederlands
ISBN-nummer: 9020201646
BookCrossing ID: 11121108
Onderwerp van het boek: hooggevoeligheid, HSP
Waarom ging ik het lezen: Ik wilde wel wat meer boeken over HSP lezen en sparrowbunny had nog twee dunne Nederlandse boekjes van deze auteur liggen.
Aanrader: Voor mensen die nog iets extra willen lezen over hooggevoeligheid, maar het is zeker geen introductie-boek over het onderwerp.

Na het succesvolle Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging nu een nieuw bemoedigend en inspirerend boek voor mensen met gevoelige zintuigen en een gevoelig zenuwstelsel. Hooggevoeligheid is een prachtig instrument waarvan de gebruiksaanwijzing helaas niet is bijgeleverd. Ermee leren omgaan is voor ieder persoonlijk een levenswerk. Het is oefenen in levenskunst: met liefde, geduld en toewijding leren zijn met wat er is, ook met datgene wat onverdraaglijk lijkt. Uiteindelijk leidt dat tot grote innerlijke vrede en zijnskracht.

Eerste alinea:
Er is een aanzienlijke groep mensen die uitzonderlijk gevoelige zintuigen en een uitzonderlijk gevoelig zenuwstelsel heeft. Het zijn fijnzinnige, kunstzinnige, liefdevolle mensen. Ze worden hooggevoelig, hoogsensitief of gevoelsbegaafd genoemd. Volgens onderzoek is twintig procent van de wereldbevolking zo geboren; anderen zijn zo geworden doordat het leven ze door diepe dalen heeft gevoerd. Het valt voor hen niet mee in een drukke en lawaaierige wereld te overleven, laat staan te floreren. Alle prikkels die op hen afkomen, brengen hen gemakkelijk uit balans. Om steeds weer een evenwicht te vinden, dat vereist meesterschap. En dat heb je niet in één keer.

Over de eerste alinea:
Het eerste stuk van het boek is eigenlijk weer een beetje een introductie, maar minder dan in het vorige boek. De schrijfstijl is wel redelijk representatief voor de rest van het boek.

In mijn recensie over het vorige boek van de auteur, "Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging", schreef ik 'Combineer dat met 'ander DNA' en je hebt geen mensen meer...? Die wel uit mensen geboren worden :P ?' Ik zat toen te denken aan aliens (al had ik dat niet opgeschreven), maar nu begint dit boek met een verhaal waarbij een wezen van een andere planeet herboren wordt op aarde (en hooggevoelig is). Heel fijn, toch nog aliens XD Maar goed, ik hou van science fiction en op Moonplanet zijn de inwoners ook wel wat gevoeliger :P (zie hieronder bij 'Links' als je mijn Moonplanet-dingen nog niet kent :P).
Dit boek begint een hele korte intro van wat hooggevoeligheid is, daarna gaat het verder met ervaringen van de auteur en tips voor de lezer in grijze hokjes. En weer het filterverhaal: dat HSPs moeite hebben met indrukken van buitenaf filteren - dit staat ook in de boeken over autisme/Asperger die ik heb gelezen, dat is ook een 'filterprobleem'. Maar het verschil is dat autisme/Asperger een officiële diagnose is en HSP niet. "HSP" ligt waarschijnlijk net naast het autisme-spectrum, naast Asperger, maar echte literatuur heb ik daar nog niet over gevonden.
De auteur praat in dit boek meer over omgaan met emoties, ziekte enzo dan in het andere boek - eigenlijk vond ik dit boekje interessanter dan de vorige. Wel kwam het 'zweverige' wat meer naar voren dan in het andere boekje, maar dan eigenlijk uitsluitend in de grijze blokjes met tips (en dan vooral visualisatie/chakra's/aura's).
Wat ik ook wel een interessant stukje vond was dat de auteur beschreef dat ze naar een pianoconcert was geweest waarbij de speelster na afloop een supergrote ovatie kreeg, maar omdat ze één foutje had gemaakt keek ze zelf alsof ze vond dat ze dat niet had verdiend. De auteur ging hierop verder over dat niet alles helemaal perfect hoeft te zijn. Dit is een voorbeeld van de manier waarop de auteur omgaat met de onderwerpen in dit boek - meer gericht op emoties/ervaringen i.p.v. echt beschrijvingen van dingen in het dagelijks leven.
Iets anders waar de auteur het over had zijn stiltes in een gesprek. Ik heb gemerkt dat in Nederland mensen die stiltes best wel snel willen opvullen (ook niet iedereen, maar toch vaker wel dan niet) en in Japan was dat een stuk minder. Stilte in een gesprek who cares, we praten straks wel verder :P

Korte zinnen, op sommige plaatsen misschien teveel komma's (naar mijn mening). Het leest wel snel. Het is wel iets meer gericht op een lezer die zelf hooggevoelig is dan het vorige boek.

Ik vond het wel een iets interessanter boek dan het vorige boek van deze auteur, maar het is niet een boek dat ik iedereen zou aanraden. Misschien wel aan mensen die het eerste boek hebben gelezen en dan deze ook nog wel even willen lezen (want het is ook een dun boekje) of HSP-mensen die meer oefeningen willen (want daar staan er in dit boek veel meer van in).

Ik ga het boek zelf niet herlezen, maar ik maak er een Bookcrossingboek van zodat andere mensen het wel kunnen lezen :)

-Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging, het eerste boek van Marian van den Beuken.
-Een boek over hoogsensitieve kinderen: "Het hoog sensitieve kind" van Elaine Aron.
-Een interessant boek over autisme bij vrouwen, "Aspergirls" van Rudy Simone.
-Mijn Moonplanet-site. Ik heb nog wat verhalen en tekeningen die er nog niet op staan... Voor de recentere Moonplanet-gerelateerde dingen, zie hier op mijn weblog. Mijn personage Krone had nogal wat problemen met 'teveel voelen'... (verhaal Krone, dan Raaf) en ook een heel kort verhaaltje om uit te leggen waarom ze er wel als mensen uitzien maar het toch niet zijn XD (hier, nou ja wat een uitleg... XD). Het zijn wel een wat oudere verhalen (Krone: 2005, Raaf: 2006, Menselijke aliens: 2004), toen had ik al die HSP-boeken nog niet gelezen :P

May 12, 2012, 11:57am Top

This review also appeared on my weblog here.
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Dark Congress
Author: Christopher Golden
Language: English
Series: Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): "The Deathless" by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Format: paperback
Pages: 270
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, UK Ltd.
Year published: original 2007, my edition 2007
ISBN number: 9781847391193
Topic of the book: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, demons, post-season 7
Reason for reading: It's a Buffy book!
Recommended: For people who like the Buffy tv series. This book takes place a few months after season 7 (parallel to the comics-season-8, see "Story" below), so you should only read it if you've seen season 7. People who have never seen/read Buffy: don't read this book, it will be confusing and not interesting then.

Back cover text:
Since the beginning of time, the demonic races have gathered every century to resolve conflicts among them and to determine the course of their future. This centennial event was called the Dark Congress.
In the second century B.C., however, the Dark Congress failed to resolve their conflicts. Instead, the Congress ignited into a war that drove wedges between the various demon races from that time until now. And all of it began as a result of Kandida, the greath North African river demon, being nearly killed by forces in the Congress and magically entombed in the riverbank.
But now, Kandida is free, and for the first time in centuries, the Dark Congress is being called again. All demon races and other varieties of supernatural creatures have been called to gather at the Hellmouth in Providence, Rhode Island. Some gather in hopes of resolution, some in favor of war, and Kandida is tasked to broker a treaty and guide the Congress to peace, wherein everyone might simply agree to disagree. And so the demons gather under a banner of a truce.
But the demons still harbor many bitter disagreements with one another. The Congress must have an arbiter of these conflicts, and that someone is Buffy Summers.
Buffy is horrified and disgusted to be included. After all, she is not a demon... is she? She knows so little about her powers that she cannot say for certain where they truly spring from. How can she spend so much time wallowing in the darkness without becoming part of it? Can she possibly agree to a truce with all the horrors of the world, and allow them to come Providence without any attempt to stop them? And does she have a choice?

Comments on the back cover text:
I read the back cover text when I was halfway through the book, and actually the plot includes much more - the conflict described on the back cover only starts later on.

First paragraph:
On the bank of the River Sebu, the hot wind carrying the strangely spiced aroma of the fertile soil, Micaela Tomasi gazed out across the rushing water and the primeval north African landscape, and wondered how such a serene and beautiful location could ever have been home to warring demons. Yet it had. All of the research that the Watchers Council had discovered had guided them to this very place, an hour's Jeep ride from the walls of Marrakesh.

Comments on the first paragraph:
I think the first paragraph does give a feel for the writing style throughout the rest of the book.

The story was mostly what was described on the back cover, though there was a really nice Willow plotline throughout the book that brought tears to my eyes.
I haven't read the season 8 comics, but Wikipedia said: "The only allusion to the official Season 8 Comics, is Buffy stating that Dawn is taking care of their Headquarters in Scotland. Scotland is the setting where Buffy, Xander, Dawn and their squad of Slayers live in Season 8." The author didn't know yet about the season 8 comic book plotline, except for such tiny things. Also, "Golden has said that Dark Congress is not canonical with the other post-S7 Buffy novel, Nancy Holder's Queen of the Slayers".
It's actually a bit of a lighter story, not very dark or super-serious, but still interesting (and you didn't see everything coming).

Writing style:
Golden is one of my favourite Buffy-book authors, because his plotlines and original characters are often very interesting. He can also describe the fights quite well, though throughout different Buffy books you see that authors describe the fights differently. Golden focuses both on the talk and general (not very detailed) action descriptions.
As is normal in Buffy books, there is no character introduction at all, because the reader is supposed to know them from the tv series already. I do like that, because then you can get into the story immediately, but it doesn't make most books suitable for readers who have never seen the series. For someone without any previous knowledge about the Buffy series, this book is certainly not suitable.

Spelling errors/typos:
On the back cover, missing "to": and allow them to come to Providence without any attempt to stop them?
In the first paragraph, I think 'north' should be capitalized: North African landscape.

I liked the book - it was enjoyable to read, but certainly not among the "best" group. I think Golden's Buffy books "Spike and Dru: Pretty Maids All in a Row" and "The Lost Slayer" were better than this book.

Yes, I think it's worth re-reading.

Related links:
-Wikipedia page about the book, WITH spoilers!!
-Buffywiki page with a more detailed plot description. Also contains spoilers!

May 14, 2012, 11:30am Top

Joined a readathon this weekend :)

Summary of books read:

- Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dark Congress by Christopher Golden (finished, reviewed)
- An Invitation to Cognitive Science: Vol. 3: Thinking edited by Edward E. Smith and Daniel N. Osherson, chapter: "The mind as the software of the brain" by Ned Block (I'll call this finished, because it was only one chapter I had to read for my course. Not reviewed.)
- Foundations of statistical natural language processing chapter 16 (I'll call this finished for the same reason :P I'm working on a review for this book each time I read a chapter.)
- Modern philosophy of mind (not finished, currently around page 100 of 290 and working on a review - I'll finish this book this evening and also post the review).
- The Bourne Identity (started, not finished)

May 15, 2012, 8:54am Top

Title: Modern philosophy of mind
Author: William Lyons (editor)
Language: English
Series: Everyman (The Everyman Library)
Format: paperback
Pages: 312
Publisher: Charles E. Tuttle Co., Inc. (US) and Orion Publishing Group (UK)
Year published: original 1995, my edition 1995
ISBN number: 0460875582
Topic of the book: Philosophy, Artifical Intelligence, the mind, consciousness, thinking.
Reason for reading: Background information for a paper I have to write for a philosophy course.
Recommended: Only for people interested in the topic and/or who want to read some famous papers. I don't recommend it for other people...

Back cover text:
Seminal essays on the 'Problem of Mind'
What is mind or mental process? Can they really exist? Then how might mental processes relate to brain processes? Are they only brain processes? Or are they something else? Is mind to brain as computer software is to computer hardware? If a discussion of mental processes is as obsolete as a discussion of the ether or phlogiston, should we give up talking about our mental processes altogether? And how, if at all, can we explain consciousness?
This edition presents a selection of formative responses to the 'Problem of Mind', written in a century in which the subject has undergone more theoretical changes, and arguably made more genuine progress, than it had during the entire two millennia that preceded it.
The only paperback edition available, with introduction, suggested reading list and chronology of modern philosophy.

First paragraph of the 'Introduction':
Philosophy of mind over the last hundred years has been a scene of intense, almost frenetic, activity. There have been more theoretical changes, confrontations, coups and revolutions than in the previous two thousand years. These have not merely been exciting years in philosophy of mind, however, they have been years of genuine progress. Theories have been replaced by new ones, and, generally speaking, the changes have been improvements.

I skipped the timeline with philosophy events, historical and literary events and scientific events. It's quite long and detailed, but it's not what I'm interested in at the moment.
Below, I didn't really summarize the articles, as I think it's possible to find them online anyway if you're interested (or at least what they're about). I just noted some comments. As I read this book to get information for my paper, I skimmed parts that weren't interesting (mainly towards the end of the book).
The introduction gives the historical background (19th and 20th century) to place the papers in the rest of the book.
William James: 'The stream of consciousness', 1892
About consciousness and thinking, but I think he uses too many words to explain things... No difficult language, just too many words.
John B. Watson: 'Psychology as the behaviorist views it', 1913
About the topic mentioned in the title. Quite dated, because what psychology was then, it's not really that way anymore now. I didn't think this article was very interesting.
Rudolf Carnap: 'Psychology in the language of physics', 1931
Not really interesting, I mostly skimmed this chapter... It talked about psychology in general.
Ludwig Wittgenstein: 'On believing' (extracts), 1953/1958
This was interesting, about the use of the word 'to believe'. Very short as well.
Gilbert Ryle: 'A puzzling element in the notion of thinking', 1958
Interesting, but still not that interesting :P I don't really like the writing style of this chapter (but it was okay enough not to skim it).
U.T. Place: 'Is consciousness a brain process?', 1956
Short, interesting article.
J.J.C. Smart: 'Sensations and brain processes', 1959
A response to Place's article, mostly a 'continuation'.
Hilary Putnam: 'Philosophy and our mental life', 1973
It started interesting but then it became a bit too much babbling... The author also said that his previous papers were wrong. Ookaaay...
Donald Davidson: 'Psychology as philosophy', 1971
Vague piece of text... I started skimming halfway through, it wasn't very interesting for me.
Thomas Nagel: 'What is it like to be a bat?', 1974
Interesting article! Nicest writing so far as well.
David Armstrong: 'The causal theory of mind', 1977
Started out interesting, but halfway through I started skimming the chapter. Not really what I'm interested in...
Daniel Dennett: 'Intentional systems', 1971
I also skimmed a lot of this chapter, as even though it's interesting, I didn't need it for my paper.
Paul Churchland: 'Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes', 1981
Interesting, but also skimmed a lot. The only article in the book that uses notations from logic.
Jerry Fodor: 'The persistence of the attitudes', 1987
Started with a quote from a Shakespeare play. Interesting chapter, but also skimmed a lot because it's not the topic of my paper.
Colin McGinn: 'Can we solve the mind-body problem?', 1989
I thought this was a very interesting chapter; I read it entirely. I also liked the writing style. It was also useful for my paper :P

Writing style:
All the authors have a different writing style, but all in all... Lots of babbling, too many words to explain things. Is that normal in philosophy, maybe :P ?

Spelling errors/typos:
Missing 's' in "The brain may work the way it does because it approximates some system whose laws are best conceptualized in terms of continuous mathematics." (page 145, Putnam's chapter).

It's not really a book I'd read for fun. Yes, it contains famous papers from the philosophy of mind, but I didn't think it was that interesting in general. I did get some useful things for my paper out of it, though. Maybe people with more background in philosophy will enjoy it more than I did.

I won't reread it.

Related links:
I thought the book on Artificial Intelligence - A philosophical introduction by Jack Copeland was more interesting to read... But then, that book only mentions papers which you can read in this book (like the paper by Thomas Nagel).

May 17, 2012, 2:17pm Top

Title: Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
Author: Richard Rorty
Language: English
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 401
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers
Year published: original 1980, my edition 1994
ISBN number: 0631128387
Topic of the book: Philosophy, the mind
Reason for reading: To get background information I have to write for a course.
Recommended: Only for people interested in philosophy (and mostly the question "What is philosophy?"). It's not a good book to read if you have never read anything else about philosophy, though.

Back cover text:
There are only recommendation quotes from people/magazines/newspapers on the back cover. I don't copy those. It would have been more useful to have some text about the topic on the back, but you can look at the chapter titles for the topics (see 'Review' below).

First part of the first paragraph of the Introduction:
Philosophers usually think of their discipline as one which discusses perennial, eternal problems - problems which arise as soon as one reflects. Some of these concern the difference between human beings and other beings, and are crystallized in questions concerning the relation between the mind and the body. Other problems concern the legitimation of claims to know, and are crystallized in questions concerning the "foundations" of knowledge. To discover these foundations is to discover something about the mind, and conversely. Philosophy as a discipline thus sees itself as the attempt to underwrite or debunk claims to knowledge made by science, morality, art, or religion.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The first paragraph was very long, so I only copied the first part. The writing style is quite representative for the rest of the book, though the topic is not.

Most of the things in this book I didn't need for my paper, but it was very interesting so I did read it entirely with attention :)
I thought it was a very interesting book, mostly concerned with what philosophy actually is (and for that, history is needed, but it's not a history book). After reading Philosophy of the mind, a book containing famous essays from philosophical 19th/20th century history, I felt quite disappointed with the state of philosophy - why do all those famous people seem to be blabbering on about such... useless things? However, this book is a lot more positive and made me feel happy and interested about philosophy again. So that's good.
Chapter 1: The invention of the mind
Interesting, about where mental things are located, as well as a lot about Descartes.
Chapter 2: Persons without minds
Very interesting story about a hypothetical planet with "humans" who don't have 'minds', but talk about specific stimulated nerves (for example: when experiencing pain) - so "just brain", not "brain + mind".
Chapter 3: The idea of a "Theory of knowledge"
More about the history of philosophy, defning what philosophy actually is. Lots about Kant.
Chapter 4: Privileged representations
Continued historicl description, mostly about critiques on Kant. Interesting quote from the discussion about feelings, pain and emotions: "Pigs rate much higher than koalas on intelligence tests, but pigs don't writhe in quite the right humanoid way, and the pig's face is the wrong shape for the facial expressions which go with ordinary conversation. So we send pigs to slaughter with equanimity, but form societies for the protection of koalas."
Chapter 5: Epistemology and empirical psychology
More on the history of defining philosophy (mostly Quine in this chapter). Also a bit about the comparison of human brains to computers.
Chapter 6: Epistemology and philosophy of language
History of philosophy continued from the previous chapter (mostly Feyerabend and critiques). And yes, also focused on language (as the chapter title indicates).
Chapter 7: From epistemology to hermeneutics
About philosophy, analysis of its history, also a lot about Kuhn. And is there 1970s/80s slang in this chapter XD ? Quote: "If he presses these outré considerations, he is turning normal inquiry into abnormal discourse - he is being either "kooky" (if he loses his point) or "revolutionary" (if he gains it)." I had never heard of the word 'kooky' before XD
Chapter 8: Philosophy without mirrors
About the role of philosophy in society, reflections of what philosophy was/is/should be.

Writing style:
I thought it was very nicely written, interesting and it made me want to continue reading (even though I couldn't use most of this book for my paper).
The author uses several Ancient Greek words (in Greek characters), so I think it's good that I can read/understand those things... Though it probably won't matter a lot if you can't read them.

Spelling errors/typos:
'jutified' should be 'justified' (page 211, chapter 4).

I liked the book - nice writing style, interesting topics. I think that if I'd had more background in philosophy, I would probably have understood some things better, but it was very readable already. The author voiced his own ideas very clearly.

It was very interesting and I do think it's worth rereading, but I'm not going to reread the book myself.

Edited: May 17, 2012, 6:03pm Top

Title: Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science
Author: Paul Thagard
Language: English
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 213
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year published: original 1996, my edition 1996
ISBN number: 0262201062
Topic of the book: The mind, cognitive science
Reason for reading: To get information for a paper I have to write for a course.
Recommended: For people interested in cognitive science and want to read an introduction to the topic. This book does not go in-depth.

Back cover text:
Cognitive science approaches the study of mind and intelligence from an interdisciplinary perspective, working at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. Paul Thagard's accessible, concise, and integrated text presupposes no special preparation in any of these fields.
Thagard systematically describes and evaluates the main computational theories of mental representation that have been advocated by cognitive scientists, including logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and connections (neural networks). He considers the major challenges to the computational-representational view of mind and discusses emotions, consciousness, physical and social environments, dynamical systems, and mathematical knowledge.
Teaching cognitive science is difficult, Thagard observes, because students come this multidisciplinary subject with widely different competencies, backgrounds, and interests. Mind solves this dilemma by making logic comprehensible to psychology students, computer algorithms comprehensible to English students, and philosophical controversies comprehensible to computer science students. Each chapter concludes with helpful summaries, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading.
Mind is ideal for introductory courses in cognitive science and is also useful as a supplement to courses in cognitive psychology, educational psychology, philosophy of mind, and artificial intelligence.

Comments on the back cover text:
I think the back cover text is really a good summary of the entire book and the intended audience.

First paragraph of the Preface:
Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, embracing philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. Its intellectual origins are in the mid-1950s when researchers in several fields began to develop theories of mind based on complex representations and computational procedures. Its organizational origins are in the mid-1970s when the Cognitive Science Society was formed and the journal Cognitive Science began. Since then, more than sixty universities in North America and Europe have established cognitive science programs and many others have instituted courses in cognitive science.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The writing style is representative for the rest of the book - the 'interdisciplinary thing' is present throughout the book.

I didn't read the summaries at the end of the chapters.
Chapter 1: Representation and Computation
Having just read Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature by Richard Rorty, I was like "(-o-) Easy history in this chapter, probably should have read this book first...". This chapter was an introduction to cognitive science in general (what is it, what is it used for, etc).
Chapter 2: Logic
An introduction to formal logic, including a bit of history. Also on why this book includes a chapter on logic. If you have already done courses in logic, this chapter is really simple - but still interesting because of the inclusion of history.
Chapter 3: Rules
About logical rules and the GPS I also read about in (and mentioned in my review of) Artificial Intelligence - A philosophical introduction by Jack Copeland. The author also mentioned consequently developed rule-based systems. This chapter is about the rules themselves.
Chapter 4: Concepts
About 'concepts', as the title says, but also about problem solving by following schemas. Also includes some talk about language in the brain. I LOLed at the sentence "a computer geek is not something that is both a computer and a geek, but rather a strange person obsessed with computers." XD
Chapter 5: Analogies
About models developed for analogies, as well as about metaphors in language.
Chapter 6: Images
About visual images - really seeing them and thinking in images. Mostly about using mental imagery for things like problem solving.
Chapter 7: Connections
About neural networks. A very general introduction, I think it's easy to understand if you've never read anything about neural networks.
Chapter 8: Review and Evaluation
This chapter summarizes the achievements of cognitive science and lists important challenges.
Chapter 9: Emotions and Consciousness
This chapter starts with views on the mind-body problem (dualism, materialism, functionalism), followed by a part about emotions. The chapter ends with a part about consciousness.
Chapter 10: Physical and Social Environments
About interaction with the environment - both by humans and robots.
Chapter 11: Dynamic Systems and Mathematical Knowledge
A dynamic system is "a system whose changes over time can be characterized by a set of equations that show how current values of variables depend mathematically on previous values of those variables". This chapter is about whether you can see the human mind/brain as a dynamic system.
Chapter 12: The Future of Cognitive Science
A very short chapter containing things the author thinks should be worked on, as well as tips for undergraduate students about directions they can take.

Writing style:
Very easy writing style, but also quite shallow - nowhere the author really goes in-depth. This is probably because he wrote it as a course book for undergraduate/Bachelor students from many disciplines who don't know anything about the other disciplines. So if you want to read an introduction about the topic, this is indeed a good book.

Spelling errors/typos:
'Philoosphy' should be 'Philosophy' (chapter 5, page 79, 3rd line).

Not a book that goes in-depth about topics, but a good introduction book for people interested in what cognitive science is.

I won't reread the book.

Related links:
Philosophy books mentioned:
-Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature by Richard Rorty
-Artificial Intelligence - A philosophical introduction by Jack Copeland
For more on mental imagery (chapter 6), Jonathan Foer's book on memory is very interesting (and easily readable).

May 20, 2012, 8:52am Top

Title: Being There - Putting Brain, Body, and World Together Again
Author: Andy Clark
Language: English
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 269
Publisher: The MIT Press
Year published: original 1996, my edition 1997
ISBN number: 0262032406
Topic of the book: Mind and brain, biological evolution compared to digital systems, robots.
Reason for reading: To get background information for my paper.
Recommended: No.

Back cover text:
The old opposition of matter versus mind stubbornly persists in the way we study mind and brain. In treating cognition as problem solving, Andy Clark suggests, we may often abstract too far from the very body and world in which our brains evolved to guide us. Whereas the mental has been treated as a realm that is distinct from the body and the world, Clark forcefully attests that a key to understanding brains is to see them as controllers of embodied activity. From this paradigm shift he advances the construction of a cognitive science of the embodied mind.
In Being There, Clark addresses foundational questions concerning the new tools and techniques needed to make sense of this emerging science of the embodied mind. He addresses a broad range of adaptive behaviors, from cockroach locomotion to the role of linguistic artifacts in higher-level thought, weaving together ideas and methodologies from real-world robotics, neuroscience, infant psychology, and artificial life. He charts and critiques all these influences, pointing up the dangers, pitfalls, and wider ramifications of an action-oriented perspective on mind.

Comments on the back cover text:
The backcover text does give a bit of an idea what the book is about. It makes it sounds more interesting than the book actually is, though (in my opinion).

First paragraph of the Introduction:
Where are the artificial minds promised by 1950s science fiction and 1960s science journalism? Why are even the best of our "intelligent" artifacts still so unspeakably, terminally dumb? One possibility is that we simply misconstrued the nature of intelligence itself. We imagined mind as a kind of logical reasoning device coupled with a store of explicit data - a kind of combination logic machine and filing cabinet. In so doing, we ignored the fact that minds evolved to make things happen. We ignored the fact that the biological mind is, first and foremost, an organ for controlling the biological body. Minds make motions, and they must make them fast - before the predator catches you, or before your prey gets away from you. Minds are not disembodied logical reasoning devices.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The writing style is representative enough for the entire book, I think.

I just noted short comments... The chapters didn't have that much content, in my opinion.
Chapter 1: Autonomous Agents: Walking on the Moon
About robots that have been built.
Chapter 2: The Situated Infant
This chapter is about the way babies learn things (mostly walking) and a bit about robots using the environment to do/learn things and not store a lot of information.
Chapter 3: Mind and World: The Plastic Frontier
About neural networks, explaining how they work. Also that minds are what they are because they interact with the world.
Chapter 4: Collective Wisdom, Slime-Mold-Style
About biological 'collective systems', for example termites.
Chapter 5: Evolving Robots
About 'simulating evolution', genetic algorithms and related robot experiments.
Chapter 6: Emergence and Explanation
Continuing the previous chapter(s). Also about Dynamical Systems.
Chapter 7: The Neuroscientific Image
About recent (early 1990s) developments in neuroscience.
Chapter 8: Being, Computing, Representing
About how things are/could be encoded in biological brains.
Chapter 9: Minds and Markets
About (economic) success and failure in society and what way of thinking caused those. Also about implementations of these ideas.
Chapter 10: Language: The Ultimate Artifact
About what language is used for (not only communication).
Chapter 11: Minds, Brains, and Tuna (A Summary in Brine)
Only a bit of a summary - mostly that the environment is needed for the brain.

Writing style:
Like most other philosophy books I've read, this book is written in first-person. However, I got the feeling that the author had the idea "I'm right and everyone else is wrong, though maybe he is also a bit right, but I'm entirely right". I didn't really like the way he wrote, though it was still quite quick-reading.

Spelling errors/typos:
'woulc' should be 'would' (chapter 8, page 170).
'patten' should be 'pattern' (chapter 10, page 209).

I didn't really like it - the subject was interesting but not very interestingly described.

I won't re-read this book.

Edited: May 20, 2012, 4:15pm Top

Title: Cognition, Computation, & Consciousness
Editors: Masao Ito, Yasushi Miyashita, Edmund T. Rolls
Language: English
Series: no
Format: hardcover
Pages: 266
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Year published: original 1997, my edition 1997
ISBN number: 0198524145
Topic of the book: Consciousness
Reason for reading: To get background information for my paper.
Recommended: Yes, for people interested in consciousness. It's not a good book to read as the first book about the topic, though.

Back cover text:
The topic of consciousness is truly multidisciplinary, attracting researchers and theorists from diverse backgrounds. It is now widely accepted that previously disparate areas all have contributions to make to the understanding of the nature of consciousness. Thus, we now have computational scientists, neuroscientists, and philosophers all engaged in the same effort. This book illustrates these three approaches, with chapters provided by some of the most important and provocative figures in the field. The first section is concerned with philosophical approaches to consciousness. One of the fundamental issues here is that of subjective feeling or qualia. The second section focuses on approaches from cognitive neuroscience. Patients with different types of neurological problems, and new imaging techniques, provide rich sources of data for studying how consciousness relates to brain function. The third section includes computational approaches looking at the quantitative relationship between brain processes and conscious experience. Cognition, computation, and consciousness represents a uniquely integrated and current account of this most fascinating and intractable subject.

Comments on the back cover text:
The back cover text gives a good impression of the book's contents.

First paragraph of the preface:
The issue of consciousness has long been a major problem of philosophy and has been set apart from the mainstream of science. However, recent remarkable advances in three lines of study, namely, neuroscience, cognitive science, and computational science, give us hope that consciousness will eventually be related to brain mechanisms by joint efforts of these three disciplines.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The writing style is not representative for the rest of the book, but it does give an idea of the topics talked about.

1: Consciousness: a philosophical tour (Owen Flanagan and Güven Güzeldere)
A description of the views on consciousness that people have thought of since Descartes (very broadly described).
2: Consciousness in human and robot minds (Daniel C. Dennett)
THe author describes counterarguments someone might have against consciousness being possible in robots and gives a response to them. The second half of the article is about the development of the robot 'Cog', which was just in the beginning phase at the time of writing the article.
3: Consciousness and the mind-body problem (Junichi Murata)
About qualia (feelings) and how that related to consciousness.
4: Understanding consciousness: the case of sleep and dreams (Owen Flanagan)
Interesting article about dreams: what do they have to do with thinking and consciousness? Also a large part about interpreting dreams and why it makes sense to do so.
5: Why can't I control my brain? Aspects of conscious experience (Michael S. Gazzaniga)
About how the brain works (in general) and its relation to consciousness. Also described cases of split-brain patients, where both brain-half were separated from eachother.
6: Brain mechanisms of vision, memory, and consciousness (Edmund T. Rolls)
About the topics the title indicates...
7: Single neurons, communal goals, and consciousness (Horace Barlow)
Also about the topics from the title.
8: Automaticity: from reflective to reflexive information processing in the human brain (Marcus E. Raichle)
And again, not much more than what the title describes (this article mostly describes MRI experiments).
9: Neuronal origin of visual imagery (Yasushi Miyashita)
Mostly describes experiments with monkeys.
10: Awareness of memory deficit (Hirotaka Tanabe)
Whether people can be aware of their own memory deficits (it differs per stage of the amnesia).
11: Body awareness and its disorders (Atsushi Yamadori)
About patients who don't feel some of their limbs as being their own. A similar story appeared in Oliver Sacks' book (review).
12: Language, spatial cognition, and the brain (Ursula Bellugi and Edward S. Klima)
About aphasia in people who use sign language.
13: The coherence definition of consciousness (Christoph von der Malsberg)
Another view on consciousness.
14: Neurodynamics and brain mechanisms (Jack D. Cowan)
Quite a mathematical paper, about 'that many aspects of awareness and consciousness can be explained in terms of the low-level activities of neural networks'.
15: Bidirectional theory approach to consciousness (Mitsuo Kawato)
Explains the 'bidirectional theory'.
16: The computational role of conscious processing in a model of semantic memory (R. Lauro-Grotto, S. Reich, and M.A. Virasoro)
About experiments about semantic memory on neural networks.

Writing style:
Even though all articles were written by different people, overall the writing style was quite easy to read.

Spelling errors/typos:
Missing dot on the first page of chapter 15 (page 233): "...such as handwriting and speech motor control The next section..."

Interesting book about consciousness. Some of the articles were really fun to read, because they were about topics I haven't read a lot of scientific articles about (for example the one on dreams).

I won't re-read the book.

Related links:
-Related to chapter 8: "De man die zijn vrouw voor een hoed hield - neurologische case-histories" (Dutch) by Oliver Sacks (review)

May 21, 2012, 9:02am Top

Review originally posted on my weblog here.

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Jungle Tales of Tarzan (on Librarything)
Author: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Language: English
Series: Tarzan #6
Format: paperback (also available as free ebook here)
Pages: 183
Publisher: Standard Publications, Inc
Year published: original 1919, my edition 2008
ISBN number: 1605974536
Topic of the book: Tarzan's younger years in the jungle (short story collection)
Reason for reading: I'm reading the Tarzan series in order on paper, but as I didn't have #6 (in paper version), I skipped it because it's a collection of stories taking place during book 1. Now I got it on paper, so I'm reading it :)
Recommended: Yes, but you should have read at least the first Tarzan book (not only seen the Disney movie! There are too many references to things in the first book which don't appear in the Disney movie).

Back cover text:
No back cover text.

First paragraph of the first story, "Tarzan's First Love":
Teeka, stretched at luxurious ease in the shade of the tropical forest, presented, unquestionably, a most alluring picture of young, feminine loveliness. Or at least so thought Tarzan of the Apes, who squatted upon a low-swinging branch in a near-by tree and looked down upon her.

Comments on the first paragraph:
Teeka is another ape of the tribe Tarzan belongs to. The writing style is quite representative for the rest of the book.

1: Tarzan's First Love
Tarzan falls in love with one of the female apes in the tribe, Teeka, and has a rival as well. This story touches upon the problems of being different from the rest of the apes. As is common on the Tarzan books, a village of black people also appears in this book - but Tarzan doesn't see them as being the same as he is (though he knows they are also men and thus he studies them to learn about the ways of men), he thinks he is the only white man in existence. The author uses 'black' as a description (their skin colour is black and the Tarzan stories were written at the beginning of the 19th century so 'being politically correct' did not mean using different words for this topic) and as such I'm using it in my review as well.
2: The Capture of Tarzan
Tarzan saves Tantor (the elephant) from the blacks, but then gets captured himself.
3: The Fight for the Balu
'Balu' is the ape-word for baby - Teeka's baby ape. The story is about what happens when Tarzan wants to play with the baby - not really what I had expected!
4: The God of Tarzan
Tarzan learned to read from books left by his human parents, but here it is nicely explained that Tarzan didn't know how to pronounce the letters (so he gave them his own names). Interesting!
The main point of this story is that he kept coming across the word 'God' and wanted to find out who God was (because he had already gotten as far as deciding that it was a being). I thought the conclusion was interesting.
5: Tarzan and the Black Boy
As Teeka has her baby, Tarzan longs for one of his own as well - and thus kidnaps a black boy from the village. He wants to teach him language and skills to survive, but it doesn't go entirely as planned...
6: The Witch-Doctor Seeks Vengeance
A continuation of the previous story. Can't say much about it without spoiling story 5 :P
7: The End of Bukawai
The ending to this three-part story. Tarzan is not nice :P
8: The Lion
Tarzan makes a joke among the apes who don't know humor. Interesting story XD
9: The Nightmare
Tarzan didn't have dreams until he ate cooked elephant meat... The author thought it was because of the elephant meat, I think it was because of the cooked, because he got sick.
10: The Battle for Teeka
Interesting story about Tarzan finding some cilinders in the cabin his human parents built and Teeka who gets abducted by a bull of another ape tribe. Surprising ending!
11: A Jungle Joke
Tarzan is now fully grown and at the beginning of the story he cuts his hair (bob-length with bangs XD). The rest of the story is about a 'joke' with a lion and the blacks...
12: Tarzan Rescues the Moon
Lol, this story ws funny!!

Writing style:
The sentences are not too difficult, though sometimes the sentence structure is not very common. The author sometimes talks directly to the reader, using "you" and "I", but most of the time he just tells Tarzan's story in third person.
I do like the writing style, it makes me want to read on.

Spelling errors/typos:
Missing " at the end of the sentence 'Momaya from the village of Mbonga, the chief.' (page 78, chapter 5)

I liked this book - reading about Tarzan in the jungle before he met other (non-black) humans is interesting, I think. It's quite different from the Disney movie, though easy to see what Disney based their Tarzan-story on. They just left out things that wouldn't be too suitable for a children's animated movie (and updated it a bit to the modern time even though the movie still takes place at the beginning of the 20th century).

Yes, I'd reread this book :)

Related links:
The ebook version.

May 24, 2012, 12:06pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: The Princess Bride - I read the "25th anniversary edition", which includes chapter one of "Buttercup's Baby" as well.
Author: William Goldman
Language: English
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 399
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Year published: original 1973, my edition 1999
ISBN number: 9780747545187
Topic of the book: Fairy tales, royalty.
Reason for reading: My mother didn't want the book anymore, I had heard of the movie but had never seen it and I knew it was famous, and there was no reason not to read the book.
Recommended: Hm... Maybe. If you're interested in reading it (because you've heard of the movie or something :P).

Back cover text:
Beautiful, flaxen-haired Buttercup has fallen for Westley, the farm boy, and when he departs to make his fortune she vows never to love another. When she hears that his ship has been captured by the Dread Pirate Roberts - who never leaves survivors - her heart is broken. But her charms draw the attention of the relentless Prince Humperdinck who wants a wife and will go to any lengths to have Buttercup. So starts a fairy tale like no other, of fencing, fighting, torture, poison, true love, hate, revenge, giants, hunters, bad men, good men, beautifulest ladies, snakes, spiders, beasts, chases, escapes, lies, truths, passion and miracles.

Comments on the back cover text:
Not the most informative back cover text, but it does inform you a bit of the start of the story. Slight spoilers, but I didn't read the back cover text beforehand (and actually, this spoiler does not really matter!).

First paragraph:
The year that Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette. Annette worked in Paris for the Duke and Duchess de Guiche, and it did not escape the Duke's notice that someone extraordinary was polishing the pewter. The Duke's notice did not escape the notice of the Duchess either, who was not very beautiful and not very rich, but plenty smart. The Duchess set about studying Annette and shortly found her adversary's tragic flaw.

Comments on the first paragraph:
Actually the story is preceded by an introducion of Goldman telling this story of his life and his relation to the book (as he says it is an abridgement he has done of the original book by S. Morgenstern...), but I decided that for the first paragraph, I should take it from chapter one.

The story of the Princess Bride itself... It was interesting, but I did not really like it. Yes, I liked it well enough until the torture scene came along. And it was not that it's the most horrible torture scene I've read (really not), but it's the idea behind it (why that torture machine was built). And then I wasn't really curious about the rest of the book anymore (and I didn't really like the rest of the story anymore...), but what kept me reading where Goldman's comments inbetween. The author interrupts the story with paragraphs about parts of the story, why he "made those abridgements", his comments on the storyline, etc. I liked that, so that's why I kept reading (and well... the ending was okayish, I think). At the end the author also includes the "abridgement" of the first chapter of a second book, as well as a life story about how he came to abridge only the first chapter of the second book, and I started getting the idea that he was fantasizing about his life. So after finishing the book, I checked Wikipedia to see if I was right (spoilers, of course, here and here).
Back to the main story: I did like the world it was taking place in! More than the characters.

Writing style:
Goldman wrote quite a lot of paragraphs with comments about the story - of course in first person. I liked these 'inbetween paragraphs' more than the main story...
The writing style of the main story is third person, simple sentences and easy reading. I do like the writing style, it's a 'happy, bouncy' writing style. Doesn't always fit the topic or mood of the story, so that gave a bit of an odd reading experience, but the writing style was certainly not what made me not-really-like the book.

I didn't like the main story that much (well, I liked the first half of it), but I did enjoy reading Goldman's comments inbetween (and he wrote quite a few comment-paragraphs).

I won't re-read this book, though it was an interesting read. My copy will go to sparrowbunny :)

Edited: May 24, 2012, 3:34pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Ranma 1/2 #1
Original title: らんま1/2
Author: Takahashi Rumiko
Language: English (original = Japanese)
Series: Ranma 1/2 (which is published in 38 volumes in Japanese, 36 volumes in English)
Format: paperback, left-to-right (so, flipped from the original Japanese)
Pages: 300
Publisher: VIZ
Year published: original 1988, my edition 2004
ISBN number: 1569319626
Topic of the book: manga, gender-changing
Reason for reading: I got the first three volumes from a friend and as I reaaaaaally like the Inuyasha series by the same author, I did want to read Ranma as well!
Recommended: Yes!

Back cover text:
A one-two punch of action and comedy by one of Japan's most beloved creators!
Teenaged martial artist Ranma Saotome went on a training mission with his father one day... well, actually they'd been training for years, but this day was different. At a legendary training ground in China, the two had a little accident.
A fall into some cursed springs triggered a transformation. Now, every time Ranma is splashed with cold water, he changes into a girl. His father, Genma, when splashed, changes into a panda! Does this complicate their lives? You bet!
Battle of the sexes
Years ago, Genma promised his old friend Soun Tendo that Ranma would marry one of Soun's three daughters, and carry on the family's martial arts school. Except that the girl picked to be Ranma's bride doesn't seem to like him, Ranma keeps getting into fights... and did we mention that whole changing into a girl thing?

Comments on the back cover text:
Of course I didn't read the back cover text beforehand :P But I knew that he'd change into a girl when splashed with water, I just didn't know why. But it's told quite early on in the story anyway.

First page:
Mailman: "Mr. Tendo! Your mail!"
Postcard: Hi. Bringing Ranma from China. Saotome.
Mr. Tendo: "R-Ranma? Coming here? Oh, how I've w-w-waited for this day!"

Comments on the first paragraph:
The text on the postcard is also left in Japanese: らんまをつれていく。中国にて。早乙女だよ~ん。​
For the rest, Japanese text is mostly edited out of the images.

It was a really fun story! Akane was also a very interesting character, which was what made the story interesting - because, well, just changing back and forth into boy/girl doesn't make a story by itself. There has to be something else happening as well. The other characters (Kasumi, Kuno, Ryoga) are minor characters, but they're interesting too - though they'll probably appear more in the following volumes anyway :)

Writing style:
The back cover text sounds really "American English", but the text inside is not really that obviously "American". I think the sentences are too short for that - the text balloons are quite small and the text has to fit in, so they contain short sentences (the font is normal size).

The pages were flipped, so the kimono were of course all worn the wrong way... That's the weird thing with flipping manga... But for the rest it wasn't that obvious that it was flipped.
I did notice that the page layout was sometimes a bit 'messy' - the page layout in Inuyasha is better, as well as the screentones (in Inuyasha they look 'better-quality', but that's probably because this manga is originally from 1988, while Inuyasha started in 1996).

Fun! Interesting concept, likeable characters, funny story :)

I would re-read this book :)

May 29, 2012, 11:33am Top

I wrote a guest post for another blog about Buffy/Angel books :)
Link: http://xicanti.livejournal.com/364982.html
The post is also on my own weblog.

Jun 1, 2012, 2:23pm Top

Titel: Het bizarre blok (meer informatie en een plaatje van de kaft)
Auteur: Willy Vandersteen (scenario: Peter van Gucht, tekeningen: Luc Morjaeu)
Serie: Suske en Wiske #317
Formaat: paperback
Uitgever: Standaard Uitgeverij
Jaar van publicatie: origineel 2012, mijn editie 2012
Taal: Nederlands
ISBN-nummer: 9789002246814
Onderwerp van het boek: Lambik, de duivel
Waarom ging ik het lezen: Het is de nieuwste Suske en Wiske :D
Aanrader: Ja!

Een onsuccesvol architext wil graag beroemd worden en krijgt hulp van de duivel. Die belooft hem een ontwerp dat hem wereldfaam zal geven. Maar de architect speelt vals en laat het contract door Lambik ondertekenen. Die is de volgende dag spoorloos verdwenen. En net buiten de stad blijkt Lambik een zeer bizarre woning te hebben opgetrokken... Onze vrienden gaan er een kijkje nemen en stoten op een boel vreemde dingen. Lambik blijkt in handen te zijn van een donkere macht die hem niet zonder slag of stoot wil laten gaan.

Over de achterkanttekst:
Niet vantevoren gelezen (natuurlijk...), maar het geeft wel een goed idee van het verhaal.

Ik vond het best wel een leuk verhaal - niet heel erg diep en er gebeurde op zich ook niet zo heel erg veel, maar het idee was leuk uitgewerkt en er zaten ook verwijzingen naar vorige Lambik-gerelateerde boeken in (ik heb ze allemaal gelezen, maar als je ze niet hebt gelezen kun je aan de hand van dit verhaal wel kijken welke je daarvan wil lezen, denk ik, aangezien de volgorde waarin je de Suske en Wiske-boeken leest niet echt uitmaakt). Het was wel een beetje het vervolg op het vorige album, "Krimsonia", dus ik zou die tenminste wel lezen voordat je dit album gaat lezen.

Vlaams, zoals in alle Suske en Wiskes :) Het leest snel.

Mooie en duidelijke tekeningen, "plat" ingekleurd op de computer (zonder schaduwen).
De tekenstijl waarin de personages zijn getekend is door de jaren heen een beetje veranderd. Aangezien er nu verwijzingen naar oudere albums in dit verhaal zitten, werden die ook in "de oudere" tekenstijl getekend - dat vond ik wel erg leuk :)
Wiske heeft een staartje achter met het strikje als "elastiekje" i.p.v. het strikje bovenop haar hoofd.

Leuk album wat je best wel snel leest. De kleuren van de tekeningen vind ik gewoon heel mooi XD

Wel een album dat je kan herlezen, maar het valt voor mij niet onder de "beste albums" van Suske en Wiske.

Jun 6, 2012, 11:25am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Speaker for the Dead
Author: Orson Scott Card
Language: English
Series: Ender series "Ender's Game", book 2/4.
Reviews for other books in this series (up till now): book 1: Ender's Game
Format: paperback
Pages: 382
Publisher: TOR
Year published: original 1969, my edition 1977
ISBN number: 9780812550757
Topic of the book: (sentient) aliens, interplanetary travel, family and friendship.
Reason for reading: I liked the first book, "Ender's Game", and this is the sequel to it. I could borrow it from a friend.
Recommended: Yes, if you liked Ender's Game and want to read the next book.

Back cover text:
In the aftermath of his terrible war, Ender Wiggin disappeared, and a powerful voice arose: the Speaker for the Dead, who told the true story of the Bugger War.
Now, long years later, a second alien race has been discovere, but again the aliens' ways are strange and frightening... again, humans die. And it is only the Speaker for the Dead, who is also Ender Wiggin the Xenocide, who has the courage to confront the mystery... and the truth.

Comments on the back cover text:
A bit vague, but it gives a good impression of the story without giving any spoilers. I give more spoilers in my review :P

First paragraph (of the prologue):
In the year 1830, after the formation of Starways Congress, a robot scout ship sent a report by ansible: The planet it was investigating was well within the parameters for human life. The nearest planet with any kind of population pressure was Baia; Starways Congress granted them the exploration license.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The prologue follows an introduction by the author about how this book came to be, and a Portuguese pronunciation guide.
The prologue just gives an introduction about the planet on which most of the story takes place.

After reading "Ender's Game", this second book in the series was a lot more 'peaceful', actually. It was a lot less suspenseful. While this book takes place about 3000 years after the ending of the first book, Ender and his sister are still alive (for a logical reason) and Ender has become the Speaker for the Dead.
The story is about another sentient alien species (the "Piggies") and their first contact with humans. The main characters in this book are humans from the colony on the Piggies' home world, Lusitania, but some of the inhabitants of Lusitania invite the Speaker for the Dead to speak about deaths of people close to them. They hadn't expected Ender to come to them (because, well, he has been dead for about 3000 years?). Ender has changed since his childhood (book 1), but I think it's a believable change - he got older.
There are also some mysteries about the Piggies and their culture, which stay a mystery for most of the book - and the solutions are interesting/believable.
I liked this sequel, though it had quite a different atmosphere compared to the first book. While the first book was more action and "omg I want to know what happens next now!!", while this book was "aah peaceful story, but I still want to know what happens next".

Writing style:
There are quite a few Portuguese sentences inbetween the English ones. The reason is that the people who colonized Lusitania also speak Portuguese, so it would be natural for them to switch to Portuguese (and English, which is the "standard" language). Most of the time, there is a translation (literal or a summarizing one) following the Portuguese sentences, but not all the time. As I don't know Portuguese (and also no Spanish), I didn't really understand those sentences. I did not have the feeling I really missed anything though, as it was clear from the story what kind of feeling the sentences meant to convey. Also, some words were similar to English or French words, so I got a liiiittle bit out of those sentences. People who understand Portuguese and/or Spanish might understand a lot more of it, though.
There is a pronunciation guide to Portuguese included in the book, which is useful.

Spelling errors/typos:
There was this word which was spelled alternately as "raman" and "ramen". It was not very clear which was which - maybe raman=singular and ramen=plural?

I liked the book - it was a nice sequel to "Ender's Game". As with the first book, a sequel is not really necessary, but it is possible to have a sequel to this book (and it's already published, so I'll probably read it). It's not a book that would really work as a stand-alone, you should read "Ender's Game" beforehand. But you don't really need to read the next book in the series, if you want you can stop after this one.

Yes, I think it's worth re-reading, though I don't think I'd re-read this book without reading book 1 first. It's possible, though.

Jun 17, 2012, 3:23pm Top

New reviews:
- Snow country by Yasunari Kawabata: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/85571.html
- Witches abroad by Terry Pratchett: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/85945.html

Already at 153 books now :D I am going to try and reach 200, maybe even 250 this year.

Jun 25, 2012, 1:28pm Top

Jul 21, 2012, 5:46pm Top

Zilverwolf by Alice Borchardt (review)

Jul 29, 2012, 2:14pm Top

Titel: Katten & ander gespuis
Auteur: Frits Abrahams
Serie: nee
Formaat: paperback
Pagina's: 183
Uitgever: Uitgeverij Prometheus en NRC Handelsblad
Jaar van publicatie: origineel 2009, mijn editie 2009
Taal: Nederlands
ISBN-nummer: 9789044612998
Onderwerp van het boek: katten, huisdieren, insecten, vogels (vooral wilde vogels in de stad), columns
Waarom ging ik het lezen: Het was een boekje over katten (al bleek dat dat maar de helft was) en een leuk boekje over katten is volgens mij best wel lastig om te schrijven, omdat ik maar een klein deel van de boekjes over katten die ik heb gelezen, echt leuk vond.
Aanrader: Niet echt. Het is wel leuk om een keertje te lezen, maar verreweg de meeste columns vond ik niet echt interessant (qua onderwerp en schrijfstijl).

'"Het lijkt me qua karakter een moordkat," zei Ronald. "Je hebt slimme en domme katten, maar zij moet heel slim zijn, anders handhaaf je je niet vier jaar op straat." Ik keek nog eens goed naar de kat, en ik zag haar opeens als een vrouw die ik heel graag wilde hebben. En het mocht ook nog. We gaan haar Neeltje noemen.'

Aldus Frits Abrahams over zijn stormachtige relatie met een nieuwe kat. Het leven van een kat kan hard zijn, maar ook het baasje moest soms lijden: rouwend bij de dierenarts, wanhopig zoekend naar een verdwaalde kat of 's morgens om vijf uur klaarwakker in bed als de kat honger krijgt. Abrahams schrijft over Neeltje, haar voorgangers, haar opvolgers en vele andere dieren op de manier die zijn lezers zo goed van hem kennen: bondig, laconiek en humoristisch.

Frits Abrahams (1946) is redacteur van NRC Handelsblad. Zijn populaire columns werden eerder gebundeld in onder meer Liefde en ander leed, Mijn vader vond het mooi geweest en Ben je onze trouwdag vergeten?

Over de achterkanttekst:
Het geeft wel een aardige indruk van de inhoud van het boek, maar het laat niet echt zien dat "andere dieren" de helft van het boek beslaat.

Eerste alinea/pagina:
Het mirakel van de wachtende kat
Het kattenwegloopseizoen is weer begonnen.
Overal achter de ramen hangen kleurige, maar treurige aanplakbiljetten van katten die heen zijn gegaan en vermoedelijk nooit meer weerom zullen komen. Alle soorten, maten en leeftijden zijn vertegenwoordigd. Een kat van zeventien kan even reddeloos verdwalen als een katje van één.

Over de eerste alinea/pagina:
De schrijfstijl is wel representatief voor het hele boek.

De columns over andere dieren vond ik trouwens wel interessant, misschien nog wel interessanter dan die over de katten. De inhoud daarvan was iets onverwachter.
In de columns over katten, de eerste helft van het boek, stond eigenlijk niet echt iets wat ik niet had verwacht in stukjes over katten. Redelijk "standaard" dus, denk ik, als je al meerdere boeken over katten in dit genre hebt gelezen.

Ik ben het wel eens met het 'bondig' dat op de achterkant genoemd staat. De zinnen bevatten niet echt veel onnodige woorden en het taalgebruik is consistent (dus niet de ene keer makkelijke en de andere keer moeilijke woorden). De meeste stukjes vond ik echter niet heel grappig, terwijl het misschien wel zo bedoeld was. Verder heb ik het NRC wel een paar jaar gelezen (ongeveer vanaf de zomervakantie 2006 tot (en met) de zomervakantie 2011) en alhoewel ik me wel kan herinneren dat ik de columns van Frits Abrahams heb gelezen (zijn naam stond er nogal groot bij), kan ik me deze specifieke columns niet echt herinneren. Dit boek is verschenen in 2009, dus er zullen er vast wel wat tussenzitten die ik ook in de krant heb gelezen, maar ik vind het niet echt een 'memorabele' schrijfstijl (of onderwerpen). Eigenlijk vooral leuk om elke dag even in de krant te lezen en daarna niet meer over na te denken. Aangezien de columns oorspronkelijk ook in de krant zijn verschenen, zullen de stukjes ook wel een beetje geschreven zijn met die insteek, denk ik.

Leuk om een keertje te lezen, maar niet echt een boek met inhoud die lang blijft hangen. Misschien ga ik er wel een Bookcrossingboek van maken.

Ik zou het boek niet nog een keer lezen.

Jul 29, 2012, 2:22pm Top

I got news: my recipe book (Dutch recipes in Dutch and Japanese) is being printed :D Tomorrow, the test print will be send to me (I expect it to arrive on Tuesday) and if I approve, it will get printed for real :D

I already uploaded the cover image to Deviantart: http://fav.me/d58weq0 (the description on DA also contains some other information, but when the book is printed I'll post the ISBN both on DA and in this thread).

Jul 30, 2012, 12:16pm Top

Weblog entry: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/90779.html

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Lucifer's Hammer
Author: Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
Language: English
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 640 (I read 126 pages)
Publisher: Fawcett Crest Books
Year published: original 1977, my edition 1977
ISBN number: 0449235998
BookCrossing ID: 8407625
Topic of the book: comet hitting the earth
Reason for reading: It's a science fiction book.
Recommended: Many people seem to like the book, but after 126 pages it still couldn't hold my interest (and I remember only a few other books in my life I've stopped reading because of this reason). So if you think the topic sounds interesting, try to read it?

Back cover text:
The lucky ones went first...
The gigantic comet had slammed into Earth, forging earthquakes a thousand times too powerful to measure on the Richter scale, tidal waves thousands of feet high. Cities were turned into oceans; oceans turned into steam. It was the beginning of a new Ice Age and the end of civilization.
But for the terrified men and women chance had saved, it was also the dawn of a new struggle for survival - a struggle more dangerous and challenging than any they had ever known...

Comments on the back cover text:
In the first 126 pages, I haven't come across this yet. So somewhere later in the book the comet will hit (one review I found said that happened after the first couple hundred pages, then 200 pages about the strike and the last 200 pages about the aftermath).

First paragraph of chapter 1 (skipping the prologue):
The blue Mercedes turned into the big circular drive of the Beverly Hills mansion at precisely five after six. Julia Sutter was understandably startled. "Good God, George, it's Tim! And dead on time."
George Sutter joined her at the window. That was Tim's car, yup. He grunted and turned back to the bar. His wife's parties were always important events, so why, after weeks of careful engineering and orchestration, was she terrified that no one would show up? The psychosis was so common there ought to be a name for it.

Comments on the first paragraph:
The first paragraph is representative for the writing style of the entire book (at least as far as I've read), I think.

At the beginning there were just too many random-seeming scenes about people who didn't have interesting lives and get you wondering why the author is writing about them. The women who appear are all having sex with the male main characters (or are the target of sexual interest by the male main characters), except for one, a Russian kosmonaut woman. There were interesting parts in the story, about the comet itself, but while the idea of the story sounds interesting, the book didn't hold my interest. I think the main reasons are the writing style and that nothing was really happening. There were too many main characters, I think, and everyone (except one) seemed to have done or though about sex at one point in those 126 pages. While I don't mind reading about it, in this book it was just not done well (I think these are more interesting to read).

The story takes place in the 1070s, but is also written for an audience who has experienced that era (or at least knows a bit about it), because there are sentences like "After that Sunday morning of horror in 1969 there was not a gun or a guard dog to be had in Beverly Hills." and I have no idea what the author is talking about.

And there was one tour on a nuclear plant and the character working there was going on about how safe it was. Seeing as there'll be earthquakes and tidal waves much stronger than can be measured (according to the back cover text), I can NOT believe they won't have a nuclear problem as well. Looking at the reviews, people aren't mentioning it, so the authors probably didn't write about that. Which would be logical as Chernobyl happened in 1986 and this book was written in 1977...

Writing style:
It wasn't a writing style that could hold my interest. The sentences didn't always seem to connect to each other - the viewpoint switched quite often too (between alineas) because the story switched to another character.
It... almost read like a scientific paper (but instead it's a story) which I had to struggle through, but this book isn't obligatory reading, so I just decided to stop reading.

Spelling errors/typos:
reuptation = reputation (p. 22)

The introduction part was too long and not interesting enough to continue reading.

I'm not going to continue reading nor re-read it.

Related links:
-How to write sex scenes by Diana Gabaldon

Aug 1, 2012, 11:14am Top

Aug 6, 2012, 6:38pm Top

Cognitive psychology by Margaret W. Matlin, review: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/91630.html With lots of links to other books.

Aug 8, 2012, 4:54pm Top

The Feckin' book of Everything Irish review: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/91886.html Plus photos of one of the recipes I made from the book!

Aug 8, 2012, 9:19pm Top

#106: That sounds good! I will have to see if I can locate a copy.

Aug 10, 2012, 10:09am Top

@107: Bookdepository seems to have it (both UK and US sites, UK site is 1 eurocent cheaper) : https://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Feckin-Everything-Irish-Colin-Murphy/9781847170521

Aug 10, 2012, 10:29am Top

My book!
(touchstone doesn't work?)
It's a Dutch/Japanese recipe book :) The back cover is the Japanese front cover, but I can't upload two covers, so I linked them in my weblog entry: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/91957.html

Aug 31, 2012, 5:11pm Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Het Bourne bedrog
Original title: The Bourne Identity
Author: Robert Ludlum
Translator: Frans Bruning
Language: Dutch, original English
Series: Jason Bourne 1
Format: paperback
Pages: 461
Publisher: Poema pocket
Year published: original 1980, my edition 2007
ISBN number: 9789021001876
Topic of the book: crime, mystery, detective
Reason for reading: I knew a movie was made of this and I've never seen it but I was curious about it. So when I saw the book in my parents' bookcase, I thought that was faster than watching the movie, as I don't watch movies very often...
Recommended: Yes.

Back cover text:
Meer dood dan levend wordt hij uit zee opgevist. In een smerig kamertje op een eiland in de Middellandse Zee komt hij tot bewustzijn. De arts naast zijn bed vraagt hem naar zijn naam. De man staart hulpeloos voor zich uit.
'Dat weet ik niet,' stamelt hij.
Zo begint het verhaal van Jason Bourne, een man zonder geheugen, zonder identiteit. Een man die gemanipuleerd en achtervolgd wordt. Die zich beweegt in een afschuwelijk doolhof van leugens en bedrog.
Jason Bourne, een man die vecht tegen krachten die zijn begrip te boven gaan...
Het Bourne bedrog is verfilmd met Matt Damon als Jason Bourne.

First paragraph:
De treiler stortte zich in de woedende golven van de donkere, razende zee als een log beest dat wanhopig probeerde zich los te werken uit een ondoordringbaar moeras. De golven rezen tot duizelingwekkende hoogte en beukten tegen de romp met de kracht van vele tonnen water. Het witte schuim dat afstak tegen de nachtelijke hemel plensde omlaag het dek over, gedreven door de nachtwind. Overal weerklonken de geluiden van gefolterd materiaal, hout dat tegen hout geperst werd, touwen die gewrongen en gerekt werden tot ze bijna braken. Het beest was stervende.

Comments on the first paragraph:
It starts with a descriptive paragraph, but the book does contain a lot of dialogue. There's a good balance between description and dialogue, I think.

I've never seen the movie, so the story was new to me. I thought it was interesting - I wanted to continue reading to find out more about Jason Bourne's past. The author sometimes switches viewpoints to show a conclusion Bourne will reach just before or just after the viewpoint switch. As a reader, you sometimes know a bit more than Bourne, but not too much.
At first I thought the ending was a really "go read book 2" ending, but after thinking about it for a bit, it can end after this book. It's not such a conclusive ending, but it's an okay ending. I did like the middle part of the book best, when they were searching for clues to figure out Bourne's past before he lost his memory.

Writing style:
Sometimes it was obvious that it was translated from English, but most of the time it wasn't.
There were also German and French sentences inbetween, because most of the story took place in Germany and France. I guess with basic French and German knowledge you can understand those sentences (I understood everything), but the author doesn't give a translation for those sentences.

Spelling errors/typos:
Some missing punctuation and apostrophs. I didn't note down the pages.

I liked the book and I'm glad I read it! The story was interesting and now I finally know what "The Bourne Identity" is about :P

I'm not going to reread this book. It's a kind of detective story and I hardly ever reread detective stories... I know the answer to the big question in this book, so then it's less interesting to read.

Oct 15, 2012, 4:32pm Top

Already read more than 200 books this year :D The book below is #201.

This review can also be found on my weblog here.
(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: Twee vrouwen (English translation published as "Two women")
Author: Harry Mulisch
Language: Dutch
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 139
Publisher: Nederland Leest, met toestemming van De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam
Year published: original 1975, my edition 2008
ISBN number: 9789059650749
BookCrossing ID: 11468406
Topic of the book: lesbian relationship
Reason for reading: My sister read it (for school) and said it was an okay story, slightly fun to read. And as I had never read anything by Harry Mulisch (I had deliberately avoided reading anything by him in high school) and this book was quite thin, I decided to read it.
Recommended: No.

Back cover text:
Cadeautje! Harry Mulisch schreef een prachtige roman over een stormachtige liefde: Twee vrouwen. Ter gelegenheid van Nederland Leest 2008, te houden van 17 oktober t/m 14 november, overhandigt de openbare bibliotheek u graag deze gratis editie. Bedoeling is dat u ermee aan de slag gaat. Het boek niet alleen leest, maar er ook met anderen over praat. Twee vrouwen biedt volop stof tot discussie over liefde, homoseksualiteit, man-vrouwverhouding, ouder-kind-relatie en andere tijdloze thema's. Dat zoveel mogelijk lezers met elkaar het gesprek aangaan over een boek van belang, dáár is het Nederland Leest vooral om te doen.

Met Twee vrouwen schreef Harry Mulisch een van zijn meest toegankelijke romans. Aan de ene kant een literair hoogstandje, aan de andere kant een liefdesverhaal, spannend als een thriller. Het boek kwam uit in 1975 en was een onmiddelijk succes. Het werd goed besproken en in diverse talen vertaald. In 1979 ging de filmversie in première: Twice a woman. Twee vrouwen beschrijft de fatale liefde tussen Laura, een gescheiden conservator, en het meisje Sylvia. Een verhaal als een klassieke tragedie, dat bovendien leest als een trein. Het weet de lezer van nu net zo te raken als die van dertig jaar terug.

Comments on the back cover text:
It's actually the 'front cover' text and continued on the inside cover. There's a photo of Harry Mulisch on the back cover. He has a biiiiig bookcase there (I assume it's his house :P).
I didn't really read that text before I started reading the story, though.

First paragraph:
Er zijn mij een paar dingen overkomen, - niet alleen de dood van mijn moeder.
Eergisteren had ik tot diep in de nacht in mijn werkkamer gezet en een fles wijn gedronken; plotseling bedolf de vermoeidheid mij, zoals een gedropte parachutist wordt bedolven door zijn parachute. Van het ene ogenblik op het andere kon ik niet meer uit mijn ogen kijken. Ik liet alles zoals het was, deed het licht uit en ging beneden de voordeur op het nachtslot doen. In de brievenbus lag een telefonisch oproepbericht - uit Nice. Ik begreep het meteen. Het tehuis had deze manier gekozen om het in etappen aan mijn verstand te brengen. Eerst zou ik er alleen maar bang voor zijn, aldus voorbereid zou ik het door de telefoon te horen krijgen. Zonder de deur op slot te doen ging ik naar boven en belde op. Hoewel het al bijna vier uur was, kreeg ik dadelijk antwoord: ja, zij was dood. De vorige middag, vertelde de directrice (haar bliksemsnelle stem door Frankrijk, België, Nederland), was zij in het park in slaap gevallen en niet meer wakker geworden. In de loop van de avond was haar hart opgehouden met kloppen. Zij had niet geleden.

Comments on the first paragraph:
I think the writing style is quite representative for the entire book, but I will expand on the writing style below.

When I started reading, I thought it was told by Mulisch himself (or at least a male narrator), but after a few paragraphs I read that the narrator was a woman. If I had read the back cover text I might have known that beforehand :P
I think the narration is sometimes confusing, because it's not always clear at which location the events are taking place (especially near the end: France or The Netherlands?).

I didn't think the story was very interesting - it was mostly okay. You did notice very much that it was written in the 1970s: no mobile phones, among other things. It may have been special to write about two lesbian women in the time period this book was published, but I think there's hardly any plot, which makes it an uninteresting story.
The conclusion was too 'neat', everything (all the problems or possible problems in the future) were solved at the very end, the loose ends tied up very quickly.
When I read the ending I didn't like it anymore - everything before that was okay to read, though not very interesting (in my opinion). I kept waiting for something to really happen, something that would make reading this book a worthwhile experience, something that would make me remember this book (after all, it's by a famous Dutch author...). I was disappointed.

There was one interesting thing, though, which made me think of a very fun article a teacher referred to in the "Logic, Language and Cognition" course at university. Mulisch writes on page 116: "Ik zag die tijd ruimtelijk vóor mij, zoals ik altijd het jaar in de ruimte zie. het is een grote figuur in de vorm van een ei, ik schat zeventig meter lang en veertig meter bij zijn grootste breedte."
This is a kind of synaethesia. Galton (1881) describes it very nicely (with image examples!) in his article (article, Wikipedia). I think Mulisch may have had this, otherwise he wouldn't have described it like that?

Writing style:
Too many commas. Many sentences are separated by commas, but there are no connecting words between those sentences. A lot of those commas could have been replaced by full stops, or removed entirely.
He also used a comma in front of an dash, which is not correct in Dutch (neither in English), see the rules here.
This occurs every time Mulisch uses those hyphens, for example on page 26:
Het was mij nog steeds niet duidelijk, wat ik eigenlijk wilde, alleen dat ik naast haar wilde blijven lopen, zoals een hond naast zijn baas, - dat wil zeggen een blindenhond, want de baas nam geen enkel initiatief.

On page 23, Mulisch writes: "Het was een soort verklaring dat iemand in de stationsrestauratie aflegt, ..."
But you use 'dat' with neuter nouns and 'verklaring' is female (so you should use 'die'), so I think 'Het was een (..) verklaring die iemand (..) aflegt...' sounds better (removed some words to make the sentence structure clearer).
It should be 'de verklaring' instead of 'het verklaring', as 'verklaring' is female and only neuter nouns get the determiner 'het' (I checked it here and if you use a search engine you get about 600 times more results for "de verklaring", and in most of the sentences where "het verklaring" occurs, "het" doesn't even refer to "verklaring"). So even if it's Mulisch's dialect, he's not writing the rest of the book in dialect, so I think it should be changed.
Die/dat rules can be found here.

I didn't like it - the plot wasn't interesting enough and I didn't like the writing style.

No, not for me. I'm turning it into a Bookcrossing book - other people might enjoy it more :)

Related links:
- Galton, F. (1881b), "Visualised numerals", Journal of the Anthropological Institute 10: 85–102
- The same article in Google docs
- Wikipedia - Number forms
- Dutch rules for using a dash
- Website to check gender of Dutch nouns
- Dutch die/dat grammar rules

Oct 15, 2012, 11:15pm Top

Congrats on hitting 200!

Oct 16, 2012, 2:27am Top

Thank you!
I'm going to try and read 300 :)

Oct 20, 2012, 6:22am Top

Title: Doen alsof je normaal bent - leven met het Asperger-syndroom
Original title: Pretending to be normal: Living with Asperger's Syndrome
Author: Liane Holliday Willey
Translator: Ralphien Boissevain
Language: Dutch, original English
Series: no
Format: library hardcover
Pages: 191
Publisher: Uitgeverij Nieuwezijds, Amsterdam
Year published: original English 1999, original Dutch 2003, my edition 2003
ISBN number: 9057121727
Topic of the book: Asperger's Syndrome, adult who discovers she has AS
Reason for reading: I borrowed it from my boyfriend's mother who had borrowed it from the library.
Recommended: Yes, it's the best book on Asperger's Syndrome I've read so far.

Back cover text:
Pas toen een van haar dochters de diagnose Asperger-syndroom kreeg - een milde vorm van autisme - realiseerde Liane Holliday Willey zich dat zij er ook aan leed. Ze begreep ineens waarom zij anders is dan anderen. Door Asperger is ze een verwarde vreemde in deze wereld, een van die mensen die 'nooit precies de weg vinden maar ook nooit echt de weg kwijtraken'.
In detail en met humor beschrijft Holliday Willey hoe zij haar jeugd en studiejaren beleefde als een Alice in Wonderland die zich continu moest aanpassen aan nieuwe ervaringen en steeds bezig was te doorgronden wat er om haar heen gebeurde. Daarnaast geeft zij veel praktische informatie over deze stoornis: Hoe leg je een ander uit wat je hebt? Hoe overleef je school en universiteit? Welke banen kun je aan? Hoe organiseer je je privé-leven? Hoe ga je om met je prikkelstoornis? Waar haal je hulp?
Mensen met het Asperger-syndroom zullen de gedachten en gewaarwordingen van Holliday Willey direct herkennen. Zij is een van hen, en haar verhaal biedt hoop: ondanks het Asperger-syndroom heeft ze een partner, kinderen, vrienden en een succesvolle carrière.
'Doen alsof je normaal bent' biedt partners, vrienden, familieleden, leraren en therapeuten inzicht in de wereld van mensen die lijden aan het Asperger-syndroom, mensen die vaak moeite hebben uit te leggen hoe zij dingen beleven.

First paragraph from the introduction:
De paraplu van het autisme is heel breed. Daaronder gaan de meest uiteenlopende talenten en handicaps schuil. Autisme is een diagnose zonder duidelijk afgebakend begin en eind. Wetenschappers weten nog niet wat de oorzaken zijn. Onderwijskundigen zijn in debat over de aanpak. Psychologen hebben geen flauw idee hoe ze de verschillende etiketten moeten onderscheiden. En degenen met autisme zelf kunnen maar al te vaak niet van zich doen spreken. Autisme raakt velen en is toch een van de ontwikkelingsstoornissen waarover de meeste misverstanden bestaan.

Chapter 1:
The author describes how she behave when she was a child (elementary school, before she started school and the first few classes). She didn't know about AS (Asperger's Syndrome) until her daughter (7) got the diagnosis. Then she came to understand her behaviour of when she was a child. She was also very smart and at that time, no-one thought of autism because people with autism "didn't talk, screamed, got angry a lot, and hurt themselves, and were institutionalized".
Her childhood was quite happy, she was her parents' first child and they let her do a lot of the things she wanted to do, as they didn't know what was "standard behaviour" for children.
Chapter 2:
This chapter is about her time at high school. She did have a group of friends who accepted her the way she was, but she had a lot of coordination problems, so swimming and cheerleading were difficult. She started acting, which she really liked - other people there accepted her. She also joined a lot of speaking contests, which she found easier to do than talking face-to-face with people.
Chapter 3:
This chapter is about her time at university. In high school she had friends, and was accepted, and she got very good grades, so she wanted to go to the largest possible university. But at university she got lonely and had great difficulties to adapt to college life and find her way around the campus. She didn't understand people and they didn't understand why she behaved the way she did.
Chapter 4:
She got a Master's title in Multimedia and this chapter is about her jobs: first as a teacher at Houston university, then as an elementary school teacher.
Chapter 5:
In this chapter she tells about her adult life and her husband. She also notices more of her AS characteristics have started to fade, though not all (long monologues, getting lost in new areas). The problems she still has are sensory problems, interpreting things literally, tendency to be very persistent and rigid thought patterns.
Chapter 6:
This chapter is about the problems she experienced with her children, but also that she learned more because of them. She still has problems in communication, mainly talking too much (monologues) and talking at the wrong moments and too loud.
Chapter 7:
In this chapter, she talks about how she discovered the youngest one of her twin daughters had AS.
This is the last chapter and she also talks about some general issues of living with AS (herself and her daughter) and what she can teach her daughter.
Appendix 1:
She gives tips on how to tell people if you have AS and the pros and cons of telling, and which people it's best to tell.
Appendix 2:
This chapter contains survival tips for AS students (at university). She has heard from a lot of people at AS congresses) that there are very many people with AS at universities.
Appendix 3:
This chapter is about getting a job and the related responsibility. She also lists some jobs that would be suited for people with AS (and it's quite a list).
Appendix 4:
This chapter is about how to organize things at home (for example, give every family member a colour).
Appendix 5:
About problems with sensory perception (normal lights are too bright, quiet music sounds too loud, a bit of perfume makes you ill, the taste and 'structure' of food makes you want to throw up) and what you can do about it. I must say that a lot of the things in this chapter were very similar to things I've read in the books about 'Highly Sensitive People', which makes me thinks HS is a (light) form of AS (something I also started to think when reading other books about these topics).
Appendix 6:
For people helping someone with AS (family, friends, partners, teachers, employers).
Appendix 7:
Links and addresses of Dutch and Belgian (Flemish) organizations and websites on autism.

The book ends with a list of explanations of certain words (didn't read that) and a short list of literature (Dutch title if translated, English title otherwise).

Writing style:
It reads nicely and it's not really obvious it's translated from English (though some things in the text are very US-centric).

Spelling errors/typos:
p.70: ...bepaalde krijgen... -> ...bepaalde kringen... (already corrected by another reader :P)
p.80: ...laat mee meedrijven... -> ...laat me meedrijven...
p.91: Een enkel keer kan hij... -> Een enkele keer kan hij...
p.120: ...de grens te overschrijven... -> ...de grens te overschrijden... (corrected by someone else into something I can't read)

I think this it the best book on AS I've read so far. Everyone is always recommending "The curious incident of the dog in the night-time" (by Mark Haddon) when talking about books on how it is to live with autism, but I think in that book it's about "kernautisme" (= Dutch, I think in English it's just "autism") and in the book I've just read it's about Asperger's.
This book is a very personal story, without going into details or telling the audience everything about her life. It does contain some tips, but they're practical tips (probably useful for everyone...) and they're not the main focus of the book (though if you're looking for tips, you can get a lot out of it).

Yes, I think this book is worth re-reading. Otherwise I wouldn't say it was the best book on the topic I've read so far!

Related links:
My other reviews of autism- and AS-related books:
-Syndroom van Asperger (Dutch) by Peter Vermeulen & Thomas Fondelli (review)
-Wat autisme met je doet (Dutch) by John Foran & Karin Harsevoort-Zoer (review)
-Aspergirls (Dutch) by Rudy Simone (review)
-Werken met Asperger (Dutch) by Rudy Simone (review)

My reviews of HSP-related books:
-Het hoog sensitieve kind - Help je kinderen op te groeien in een wereld die hen overweldigt (Dutch) by Elaine N. Aron (review)
-Hooggevoeligheid als uitdaging (Dutch) by Marian van den Beuken (Dutch review)
-Hooggevoeligheid als levenskunst (Dutch) by Marian van den Beuken (Dutch review)

Dec 11, 2012, 7:03am Top

Rest of my October/November/December readings:

203. Grammatical error prediction (thesis) by Øistein E. Andersen
204. An Error Tagging System for Learner Corpora of Advanced Written English (thesis) by Věra Fialová
205. Blind willow, sleeping woman by Haruki Murakami (review)
206. Strijdlied van de tijgermoeder (Dutch) by Amy Chua (review)

& 207. Strangewood by Christopher Golden (review)
208. Het koningsgraf (Dutch) by Wilbur Smith (review)
209. Tanka - het lied van Japan (Dutch) by J. van Tooren (Dutch review)
210. The book of unholy mischief by Elle Newmark (review)
211. Moyasimon #2 - Tales of Agriculture by Masayuki Ishikawa (review)
212. Macht der gewoonte - Waarom we doen wat we doen en hoe we dat kunnen veranderen (Dutch) by Charles Duhigg (review)
213. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #1 by Pink Hanamori
214. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #2 by Pink Hanamori
215. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #3 by Pink Hanamori
216. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #4 by Pink Hanamori
217. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #5 by Pink Hanamori
218. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #6 by Pink Hanamori
219. Pichi Pichi Pitch Mermaid Melody #7 by Pink Hanamori
220. No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (review)

221. Thorgal/Wolvin 2 - De afgehakte hand van de god Tyr (Dutch) by Yann and Roman Surzhenko
222. Chinese calligraphy by Chen Tingyou (review)
223. The princess of Egypt must die by Stephanie Dray (review)
224. Het witte feest (Dutch) by Lulu Wang (Dutch review)
225. De godengebieder 2 - Schaduwridder (Dutch) by James Clemens (review)

Edited: Dec 13, 2012, 5:02pm Top

This review was also posted on my weblog here.

Title: Australië op blote voeten
Original title: Mutant message down under
Author: Marlo Morgan
Translator: Rie Neehus
Language: Dutch, original English
Series: no
Format: paperback
Pages: 195
Publisher: A.W. Bruna Uitgevers B.V., Utrecht
Year published: original 1995, my edition 1995
ISBN number: 9022982106
Topic of the book: a fictional account of walking through the Australian desert.
Reason for reading: I saw it in my grandmother's bookcase and it sounded interesting.
Recommended: It depends on the reason why you'd want to read it. For a realistic description of Aboriginals, no. The group of Aboriginals described by the author, seem more like Native Americans. For a message about taking care of the Earth, yes (but I'm sure you can find such messages in a lot of other places too!). For a kind of 'modern Clan of the Cave Bear' story, it's okay.

Back cover text:
Marlo Morgan krijgt een unieke kans een buitengewone reis te maken - waarmee een levenslange wens uitkomt. Alleen... de reis verloopt anders dan ze zich had voorgesteld, want zelfs het meest elementaire comfort ontbreekt volledig! Ze gaat in op wat een onschuldige uitnodiging voor een feestlunch leek te zijn, maar wat uitmondt in een trektocht van drie maanden op blote voeten door het meest ongenaakbare deel van Australië.

Met een groep van zo'n zestig aboriginals (oorspronkelijke bewoners van het Australische continent) gaat Marlo op 'walkabout', een trektoch zonder een van tevoren vastgesteld doel en zonder tijdslimiet. Al haar aardse bezittingen moet ze afgeven. Als bescherming tegen de brandende zon krijgt ze niet meer dan een simpele lap om zich heen. De voeding bestaat voornamelijk uit larven, rupsen en andere insekten. Ondanks haar onervarenheid wordt ze na een paar weken aangewezen als leidster van de groep. Prompt moet de groep, die zonder bagage reist, het dagenlang zonder voedsel en zonder water stellen...

De aboriginals beschouwen zichzelf als de oermensen en zien westerlingen als afwijkingen, 'mutanten'. Marlo ontdekt tijdens de tocht dat deze benaming heel toepasselijk is. Ook begint ze te begrijpen waarom de aboriginals bewust niet in de westerse samenleving willen integreren.
Ze krijgt van deze fascinerende en zwijgzame mensen een ontroerende en inspirerende boodschap mee. Voor alle 'mutanten'...

English summary (from Amazon):
Mutant Message Down Under is the fictional account of an American woman's spiritual odyssey through outback Australia. An underground bestseller in its original self-published edition, Marlo Morgan's powerful tale of challenge and endurance has a message for us all.

Summoned by a remote tribe of nomadic Aborigines to accompany them on walkabout, the woman makes a four-month-long journey and learns how they thrive in natural harmony with the plants and animals that exist in the rugged lands of Australia's bush. From the first day of her adventure, Morgan is challenged by the physical requirements of the journey—she faces daily tests of her endurance, challenges that ultimately contribute to her personal transformation.

By traveling with this extraordinary community, Morgan becomes a witness to their essential way of being in a world based on the ancient wisdom and philosophy of a culture that is more than 50,000 years old.

Comments on the back cover text:
The Dutch back cover text doesn't say it's fiction, so it seems to be genuinely nonfiction/biographical. The English text from Amazon does say it's fiction, but the rest of the text still makes it seem like non-fiction.

First paragraph:
Er had een waarschuwing moeten zijn maar ik merkte niets. De gebeurtenissen waren al op gang gebracht. De roofdieren zaten, kilometers ver weg, op hun prooi te wachten. Aan de bagage die ik een uur tevoren had uitgepakt, zou morgen een label 'niet afgehaald' worden gehangen en ze zou maandenlang worden opgeslagen. Ik zou gewoon nòg zo'n Amerikaan zijn die in het buitenland verdween.

The book is (was?) marketed as nonfiction, but the author states in her introduction that it's fiction, based on facts. The number of facts in the book, however, is small.

It reminded me a bit of Jean Auel's "The clan of the cave bear" series. Apparently I wasn't the only one, as on this page a reader writes: "Strangely such activities reminded me more of specific descriptions I recently read in Jean Auel’s Valley of the Horses (set in Stone Age Europe) than any Aboriginal nomads."
A lot of ideas from Native American tribes were described as being practiced by the Aboriginals, which did lessen the "believability" a lot (I've read quite a few things about and by Native Americans).
What also made it less credible was the way she handled language/translation. At the beginning she says "their language was so difficult" and she needs a translator all the time. After about 3 months, she can talk (without a translator as her translator is sent away, but it is not specified she is talking in the other language) with the chief of the tribe (see, it sounds very Native American). She writes NOTHING about language learning difficulties or any language learning experience. If you were walking with such a group through the desert, I cannot imagine doing all conversation through a translator. And then at the end, she can just talk in that language? After three months I could carry on simple conversations in Japanese, not anything near the level she seemed to be able to do (and in Japan I heard Japanese around me all the time during the day, while the author describes as mostly walking in silence and only talking a bit around dinnertime and only sometimes entire days).

The spiritual messages in this book were good, I think, but having those ideas seemingly come from Aboriginals was not a good idea (certainly as this book is marketed as nonfiction or near-to-facts fiction).
For example, at the beginning all her possessions she has with her are burned, before she departs on the walk through the land. It is emphasized several times that Western people attach too much value to material possessions and the way they look like (which IS something I agree with), but what was the first thing she did when she returned to a city? Buy stuff (long trousers, a blouse, rubber sandals, shampoo, a hairbrush, toothpaste, a toothbrush and hair clips). The rest, okay, but hair clips? Unnecessary, and certainly not the first thing you'd buy in such a case. She also was happy she could shave her armpit hair again. Hm what :P ? Is that SO important as to mention it? She apparently thinks so, but if she had just learned that outward appearance wasn't important, why was shaving armpit hair, which isn't very visible after only 3 months and wearing a blouse (which has sleeves), so important to mention as one of the first things she did after returning to the city? Or maybe it's just a case of "Americans obsessed with removing body hair".

Writing style:
The writing style was very easy to read and it reads quickly. It's not very detailed.

Spelling errors/typos:
p. 143:
Alsjeblieft, red ons.'Ik had grote moeite met... >>
Alsjeblieft, red ons.' Ik had grote moeite met...

It was an interesting book to read and I agreed with the message that people should be more careful with the Earth, but she shouldn't have used "Aboriginals" to tell this message.

It reads more like a modern "Clan of the Cave Bear" + a more clearly defined 'spiritual' message, than as a real walking account in a foreign country. For that reason I'd re-read it, because I like the "Clan of the Cave Bear" series and similar stories, but I wouldn't re-read it for any other reason.

Related links:
- More information on the book, comparing the fiction to the facts (specifically this page) and the history of the book and comments from someone who has really worked with Aboriginals (if you read only one thing, read that page).
- More commentary on why Marlo Morgan wrote the book this way, its publishing history, and the impact of the book on the real Aboriginals (also very much recommended).
- A comparison the American and Australian versions of the book and the facts instead of the fiction told by an Aboriginal woman. The Dutch version is translated from the (first) American edition.

- My review of the sixth and last book of the "Clan of the Cave Bear" series by Jean Auel.
- The wisdom of the Native Americans by Kent Nerburn, a book with the spiritual view by the Native Americans ("Mutant message down under" has quotes from Native Americans at the beginning, immediately reminding me of this book by Kent Nerburn).

Dec 15, 2012, 9:25am Top

Review also here: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/104723.html
This book is not on Librarything.

Title: Revision: Cognitive and Instructional Processes (on Amazon)
Editors: Linda Allal, Lucile Chanquoy, Pierre Largy
Language: English
Series: Studies in Writing Volume 13
Format: library hardcover
Pages: 233
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publishers
Year published: original 2004, my edition 2004
ISBN number: 1402077297
Topic of the book: writing, revision
Reason for reading: I came across it in the library and it sounded interesting, as revision is something I do too :P I'll be reviewing this book while thinking of how useful the chapters are for your own text revision.
Recommended: No.

Back cover text:
Revision is a fundamental part of writing and the acquisition of revision skills is a complex and lengthy process. This book draws together current research on revision from two areas. The first is a large body or empirical work on the cognitive processes involved in the revision of written language production. This research looks at how operations of revision intervene during various phases of writing, at the resources or constraints (e.g., working memory load, content knowledge, strategy use) that affect revision and at developmental aspects of revision capabilities. The second area of research concerns the study of students learning to revise texts in instructional settings. This research examines the effects of instructional design conditions (structure and sequencing of tasks, strategy instruction, word processing) and the impact of peer interactions on student acquisition of revision skills.

The contributions by European and North American specialists provide new insights into revision processes and raise new questions about the interplay between cognitive and instructional factors. The authors present critical reviews of research findings, as well as recent empirical work conducted in experimental and classroom settings.

First paragraph from the introduction:
Revision is a fundamental component of the writing process. So fundamental that for some specialists writing is largely a matter of revising, or as Murray (1978) stated, "Writing is rewriting..." (p. 85). Experience with writing does not, however, automatically translate into increased skill in revision. Learning to revise is a lengthy, complex endeavor. Beginning writers do little revision spontaneously and even experienced writers encounter difficulties in attempting to improve the quality of their texts (Fitzgerald, 1987).

Most chapters seemed to talk about non-fiction texts (most of them explicitly stated the kind of texts they were talking about). It was VERY focused on revision by elementary school children and teaching revision at elementary school.
1. Introduction: Revision revisited (L. Allal, L. Chanquoy)
This chapter defines what revision is (nothing unexpected, really, though the mental processes in deciding what or what not to change are included in the term 'revision' as well) and gives a short summary of the following chapters.
2. What triggers revision? (J.R. Hayes)
This chapter is about triggers that lead authors to change what they wrote. The author describes models of revision that have been created, which are interesting and recognizable if you're ever revised a text. One useful thing he noted was that when you delay revision, the depth and frequency of the revision is higher.
He also talks about methods to teach students how to revise their own texts and which methods work and which don't. Apparently the best model was to teach students sets of evaluative criteria.
3. Processing time and cognitive effort in revision: Effects of error type and of working memory capacity (A. Piolat, J.-Y. Roussey, T. Olive, M. Amada)
Not a very useful chapter for your own revisions, as it describes revision experiments the authors did. Their own text could have used some revision though - I didn't list all the grammatical errors, but the ones from page 28 and 33 below are from this text. The authors are French, so it seems they literally translated French grammatical constructions into English.
4. Ortographic revision: The case of subject-verb agreement in French (P. Largy, L. Chanquoy, A. Dédéyan)
Not very interesting for me, as I'm not interested in French verb spellings... I skipped most of this chapter, as it was describing their experiments. Better English than the previous chapter, though.
5. Revision in the context of different drafting strategies (D. Galbraith, M. Torrance)
One strategy is to plan beforehand what you want to write, then only start writing your text when you have decided on that (outline strategy). Another strategy is to just start writing and revise your text afterwards. It is interesting that one experiment described does not claim that revision afterwards is necessary, because the same quality results can be achieved by revising at the time of writing (if the outline strategy has been used). I think this chapter is interesting for someone trying to revise their own text, because different revision strategies are described and put in a graph depicting their effectiveness.
6. Audience perspective in young writers' composing and revising. Reading as the reader (D.R. Holliway, D. McCutchen)
Interesting chapter and a fun experiment involving tangram, but not really new information; I've often heard "read your text as your intended reader" for revisions.
7. Revision of form and meaning in learning to write comprehensible text (A. van Gelderen, R. Oostdam)
This chapter talks about revision of form and meaning in inexperienced writers (elementary school students); they focus almost exclusively on form revision. The chapters explains why this could be. They also propose a model for text writing (including form and meaning) and for reviewing/revision. I think these models were clear and could be used in a general sense to check your own revision process. It also talks about writing in a second language and second language acquisition a bit: "Is it better to learn language and its usage by mere exposure to as much meaningful input as possible, or should explicit noticing and/or knowledge of rules accompany this input?". It was an interesting chapter, but I thought that the writing style was a bit messy; the topics weren't that clearly defined and there were some "side tracks" in the topics, for example the second language usage (it was mentioned a few times in passing). They only proposed a model based off other people's experiments, it seemed (though the proposed models seemed to be quite usable).
8. Insights from instructional research on revision with struggling writers (C.A. MacArthur, S. Graham, K.R. Harris)
This chapter reviews research on revision by struggling writers, especially students with learning disabilities.
There is also a part comparing handwritten revisions (rewriting) with word-processor revisions (so you have to do less copying by hand). This is interesting, because all previous chapters only wrote about handwritten revisions.
9. Integrated writing instruction and the development of revision skills (L. Allal)
A review of research on writing instruction in elementary school. They also conducted an experiment on teaching writing using different methods.
10. Effects of collaborative revision on children's ability to write understandable narrative texts (P. Boscolo, K. Ascorti)
About the influence of discussion with the author on the revision process and collaborative revision (as the title says :P). It describes experiments in elementary school classrooms. It was an interesting chapter to read and does make clear that having someone else look at your text is a good idea, at least to check if what you've written is clear for the reader.
11. Collaborative revision and metacognitive reflection in a situation of narrative text production (Y. Rouiller)
About collaborative writing and revision, also at elementary school. I skipped most of the text. It was interesting, but not a topic I was interested in at the moment of reading.
12. The study of revision as a writing process and as a learning-to-write process. Two prospective research agendas (G. Rijlaarsdam, M. Couzijn, H. van den Bergh)
About defining revision and strategies of teaching revision to children. Actually this was the most interesting chapter, because it generalized all the other chapters and also gave critique on them.

Writing style:
The English competency of the authors differed quite a lot, I think, because they had different native languages. The 'good' English chapters were so easy to understand that I was thinking I was just reading in my native language (Dutch*), while others had odd grammar things that made me aware that the author wasn't writing in their native language.
(* Occasionally I think about a text I've read and am not sure anymore whether I've read it in Dutch, English or Japanese... My reading+understanding in other languages is still "too conscious" to exhibit the same problem, I think.)

Spelling errors/typos:
- page 15: missing dot:
...and the revising of texts that already exist >>
...and the revising of texts that already exist.
- page 28: than = as:
the experimenter announced that the text was the same than in the first step of the experiment >>
the experimenter announced that the text was the same as in the first step of the experiment
they received the same instruction than in the first step of the experiment. >>
they received the same instruction as in the first step of the experiment.
- page 33: +s
...to revise errors at different linguistic level is... >>
...to revise errors at different linguistic levels is...
...are necessary to revise less efficiently syntactical errors and... >>
...are necessary to revise less efficient syntactical errors and...
p. 92: +'
..., one that no doubt contributes to writers increased difficulties editing their own texts... >>
..., one that no doubt contributes to writers' increased difficulties editing their own texts...
p. 166: +"
...what you mean by "flipped, but perhaps... >>
...what you mean by "flipped", but perhaps...
...you were angry to Vanessa... >>
...you were angry at Vanessa...

I had expected a more "hardcore" linguistics approach, as this book was in the linguistics section of the university library. There was a lot of talk about 'revision models' and experiments, but I kept waiting for something really 'substantial'.
Some things in the book are useful to make you think about your own revision process, but that isn't the goal of this book. It is useful if you want to know about how elementary school students write and revise their texts and which teaching methods you can use to teach them revision.

I won't re-read this book again.

Related links:
- Author Lynn E. O'Connacht has some revision notes for her stories and poems in her journal, which may give you ideas for your own revisions.

Dec 19, 2012, 5:19am Top

(I took care to give no obvious spoilers about the story)

Title: DupliKate
Author: Cherry Cheva
Language: English
Series: no
Format: e-book
Pages: 146
Publisher: HarperCollins
Year published: original 2009, my edition 2009
ISBN number: 978-0-06-192396-8
Topic of the book: high school, university application, studying, computer game character in this world
Reason for reading: The description sounded interesting and it wasn't a very long book, so I read it on my computer.
Recommended: Yes.

English summary (from Amazon):
To Do List:

Ace SATs
Ace finals
Ace AP physics project
Avoid murdering lab partner
Submit Yale application
Resolve possibly evil twin situation

Due date: December 15th
Countdown: 11 days

By the time Kate Larson accidentally fell asleep at three a.m., she'd already done more work in one night than the average high school senior does in a week. Getting into Yale has been her dream for years—and being generally overworked and totally under-rested is the price of admission. But when she opens her eyes the next day, she comes face-to-face with, well, her face—which is attached to her body, which is standing across the room. Wait, what?

Meet Kate's computer-generated twin. Kate doesn't know why she's here or how to put her back where she belongs, but she's real. And she's the last thing Kate has time to deal with right now. Unless . . .

Could having a double be the answer to Kate's prayers? After all, two Kates can do more work than one. Or will keeping her twin a secret turn her dream future into a living nightmare?

First paragraph:
After a long weekend of studying for finals, dealing with prom committee, going over the school paper layout, and starting page designs for the yearbook, I was sitting with Paul in the Starbucks next door to our high school.
“This is so awesome it makes me want to kill myself,” I declared, waving his college application essay in the air. “Or at least tear my hair out.” I slammed the neatly stapled sheets down onto the tabletop next to my peppermint mocha. I would have slammed my face down as well, but Paul’s hand shot out in time to stop me. We froze for a second, his palm to my forehead.

It was a very American high school story. Studying for SATs and other abbreviated tests and GPA scores, as well as a lot of brand names (for example of food brands and clothing stores, but also "iTunes") and tv programs ("So you think you can dance"). I knew most of them, and the ones I didn't know about I was too lazy to look up.
However, it was a nice story to read. The characters were believable and were interesting to read about. The concept of a computer game avatar coming to life is not that original, but I think in this story it was executed in a very nice way. The author clearly showed both the problems and the advantages of having an extra "yourself" walking around.

Writing style:
The descriptions aren't really that extensive. There's a lot of dialogue and also some chat dialogue (including smilies). It reads very quickly.

Spelling errors/typos:
page 65:
Didn’t you used to be friends? >>
Didn’t you use to be friends?
page 85:
“So did you have fun?” I asked >>
“So did you have fun?” I asked.

A fun, short book.


Edited: Dec 21, 2012, 10:35am Top

Title: An introduction to Japanese linguistics
Author: Natsuko Tsujimura
Language: English
Series: Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics #10
Format: library hardcover
Pages: 401
Publisher: Blackwell Publishers Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Year published: original 1996, my edition 1996
ISBN number: 0631198555
Topic of the book: Japanese linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, language variation (historical, honorification, dialectical, gender differences)
Reason for reading: For my thesis. I was mostly interested in the syntax part for my thesis, but personally I was interested in the rest too, so I read the entire book.
Recommended: Yes.

Back cover text:
This is the first textbook on the structure of Japanese written in the framework of generative linguistics. It serves both as an introduction to Japanese Linguistics for those who have no prior knowledge of linguistics, and as a reference book on Japanese for linguists in general.
The book gives a comprehensive account of Japanese linguistics covering phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantivs, language change, dialect variation, and gender differences. The author introduces linguistic notions and terminology, and discusses theoretical analyses of linguistic phenomena in the language. A major focus is on phonology and syntax, where the formal approach of generative grammar is adopted. To aid the student's learning, chapters are supported by exercises exploring descriptive and theoretical issues, and by reading lists which introduce students to the research literature.
Besides its value to students taking courses in Japanese linguistics, and as a reference on the structure of the language, the book will also be of benefit to instructors of Japanese who wish to enhance their linguistic knowledge of the language.

First paragraph of the "Preface":
The goals of this book are three-fold. First, the main goal is to examine spoken Japanese from a linguistic perspective. Emphasis will be placed more on phonology (how sounds pattern to form words) and syntax (how words combine to form phrases and sentences) than on other topics because they lend themselves more readily to the formal approach taken in this book. Second, linguistic notions and terminology will be introduced, especially for the reader who has no prior knowledge of linguistics, so that we can later refer to them in providing analyses of diverse linguistic phenomena. Third, for many of the linguistic phenomena that have been given proper descriptions, we will discuss their theoretical analyses.
This book is for undergraduate students who are interested in Japanese linguistics. Prior knowledge of linguistics, however, is not assumed. Nonetheless, the book should be of interest to graduate students of Japanese and to linguists in general since the book can serve as a reference on Japanese linguistics and offers suggested readings on particular issues.

At the end of each chapter are recommendations for further reading, which I like a lot! It's useful.
Chapter 1: Introduction
A short chapter describing, in a very general way, how children acquire language. Not really focused on any language, though the examples are in English.
Chapter 2: Phonetics
It first discusses the hiragana alphabet and its romanizations/pronunciations for a bit, then explains both English phonology and Japanese phonology. It's a short introduction, but nothing new if you have done a course on phonology (in any language; though the part on hiragana might be new if you've never studied that). The chapter also describes differences between English and Japanese pronunciations. They do use the Kunrei romanization system, which is a bit confusing if you only know the Hepburn system (Hepburn follows the pronuncation a bit more closely, for example つ is 'tu' in Kunrei and 'tsu' in Hepburn). This was also a very short chapter (about 15 pages).
Chapter 3: Phonology
The first long chapter (about 100 pages). The author uses the Kunrei system, but adds little things to indicate the pronunciation (for example a superscript 's' inbetween 'tu'). That already reads a bit easier than without, because I'm just used to reading Hepburn romanization or real Japanese script. It has a lot of text about phonological rules, but I think it's a very clear explanation of how Japanese verb conjugations work. Also a part about 'rendaku' (sound changes in compound words; why is 'Rendaku' written with a capital letter?) and a discussion of mora/syllable. The part on speech errors in Japanese is interesting; quite different from English/Dutch speech errors. The last part of this chapter is about stress/pitch/accentuation, which is a topic I find very interesting. I've written about that in Dutch too during my Linguistics bachelor course on phonology; check the Related Links below for the page in Dutch and some images, which you can understand when you know English. I linked more books below. The last part of the chapter is about shortening words etc.
Chapter 4: Morphology
This chapter starts with describing part-of-speech categories, making a few more distinctions than in English. One of the notes said "Martin (1975)", so I looked in the reference list and am reading "Martin, S. (1975), `Reference Grammar of Japanese. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press." When I read "New Haven", I thought, hey there's Yale University? Because I had just read "DupliKate" in which one of the characters actually goes to New Haven because of Yale University... And then I read on and saw "Yale University Press" :P /random
The next part is about morpheme types, which is about parts of words. The last part is about word formation (how you can form words in Japanese), for example compounds, and heads (to which part of a compound word do the other words attach).
Chapter 5: Syntax
The chapter starts with a lot of syntax-tree things. There are a bunch of other structural things in this chapter as well. It's the longest chapter (about 150 pages) and it was the most useful one for my thesis as well, but also the one I read last (I read the chapters in the order 1-2-3-7-6-4-5).
Chapter 6: Semantics
The first part is about word meaning and ambiguity. Then there is a lot about verbs. Interesting chapter, but not the most interesting (though it contained several things I could use for my thesis).
Chapter 7: Language Variation
The first section is about historical linguistics, which I like a lot (see also a bit in the Related Links below). Reading Old(er) Japanese sentences and words just makes me happy XD In this chapter, there are some comparisons between Old Japanese and modern Japanese, so you can see how the language evolved in verb forms, and the use of the particles `ga', `no' and `wo' (especially interesting with verb forms, which went from regular to irregular, for example).
The part about honorifics is very short. The next part is about dialects. "Japan is a very small island country", it says. Yeah :P But they do say "Unlike the United States", but the US isn't an island country. The entire North+South America is an island. Compared to that size, yes, Japan is a small island country XD Shibatani's book is mentioned here too, which I linked below alread (including an image from the book). Reading Tokyo dialect accent patterns still sounds weird to me. The Osaka patterns sound normal to me XD It's just what I'm more used to I guess, as Osaka is also in Kansai (where I lived). The last part of the chapter is about gender differences.

Writing style:
Easily written, but I still think the Kunrei romanizations don't read very easily. Just not used to it XD

Spelling errors/typos:
page viii:
- There are no page numbers on this second page of the contents in my edition (most of the phonology chapter and the morphology chapter headings are on this page).
page 45:
- "All the roots in (56) end in /k/" is incorrect, as the word in (56a) ends in /t/ (`kat').
page 51:
- "tatsuida" should be "katsuida".
page 54:
- One time "sushi" is used, while all the other times "susi" is used as a spelling.
p. 107:
- "What is interesting, however, is the cases in (249)." >>
"What is interesting, however, are the cases in (249)."
p. 317:
Tanaksan-no >> Tanakasan-no

It is the first book I've read with so many topics in Japanese linguistics in one book, so it is certainly a good introduction.

I think it's a rereadable book, though probably more a reference book than a read-in-one-go book (though it's a lot nicer to read in one go than some other study books I've read...).

Related links:
- Wikipedia page on mora.
- Tone and Syllable in Kagoshima Japanese - Haruo Kobuzono (Kobe University), Departmental Bulletin Paper, 2004
- My Dutch essay on Japanese pitch. If you don't know Dutch, the following images are interesting: differences between dialects for a number of Japanese words (from The languages of Japan by Masayoshi Shibatani), accent distribution map (from NHK日本語発音アクセント辞典, translated into English by me).
- Some other books on Japanese tones I've read for my bachelor's thesis: 東京弁アクセントの変容 by 秋永一枝 (fun book about Tokyo accents, also includes comparisons between accents of different age groups), The phonological component of a grammar of Japanese by James D. McCawley, The sounds of Japanese by Timothy J. Vance, Japanese tone structure by Janet Pierrehumbert.
- Another book on historical Japanese grammar I've read: An historical grammar of Japanese by George Sansom. I currently have another book on Japanese historical grammar borrowed from the library, which is A history of the Japanese language by Bjarke Frellesvig (I'll link the review as soon as I've written it, but you can check the 'linguistics' review tag in case I wrote it and forgot to link it :P).
- My essay in Dutch about honorifics in Japanese.
- My essay in Dutch with some Kansai-ben and Kyuushuu-ben word lists and links (ben = dialect), for example this link to a Japanese site containing a lot of information about dialects.

Dec 31, 2012, 6:47am Top

Assassin's Apprentice review on my weblog: http://moonplanet.dreamwidth.org/106877.html

Total for this year: 231 books.
Japanese: 18
English: 163
Dutch: 47
German: 3

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2012

987 members

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