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review 2017-07-02 19:14
Marcos Ramirez by Carlos Luis Fallas
Marcos Ramírez - Carlos Luis Fallas

This is an enjoyable tale of a boy growing up in Costa Rica in the 1910s and 1920s. It is mostly episodic, without an overarching plot, and Marcos spends most of his time misbehaving and causing trouble, so the Tom Sawyer comparison feels apt. The specific details of Marcos’s life feel real rather than drawn from fictional tropes, so I suspected the book was autobiographical even before learning from the brief autobiographical essay in the front that all the facts of Marcos’s life match Fallas’s.


It is a colorful and entertaining book, and it’s not your stereotypical Costa Rica: the boys, including Marcos, are quite violent, and at one point he runs off with the army when war with Panama is brewing. Marcos is a lively if sometimes exasperating character, though there’s little development of anyone else – we get to know his mother and uncle a bit, but the book’s autobiographical nature means his friends are represented by an ever-changing stream of boys who put in brief appearances, and few other characters register much. Toward the end we read more about Marcos’s schooling, which is interesting but not in the same way; there’s a lot of school politics and criticism of teachers for whom memorization is the highest form of learning. But the couple of episodes in which Marcos uses cruelty to animals to revenge himself on their owners were my least favorite.


Overall though, this is a fun book; Fallas seems to be one of those few authors who can write about childhood from the inside rather than imposing an adult viewpoint on the narrative. It’s a shame this book apparently has never been translated to English, as I suspect it could find a healthy readership.

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review 2016-06-26 23:01
El General y El Presidente by Rafael Ángel Méndez Alfaro
El general y el presidente - Rafael Ángel Méndez Alfaro

Because more of my attention is geared toward understanding what's going on rather than analyzing their merits, I think I am normally more forgiving toward books I read in Spanish. Hence, picking up this one off the shelves of my university library even though no one on the Internet seems to have read it (also, books from Costa Rica are hard to find). It seemed a little odd when the book kicked off with the two protagonists discussing the merits of various types of ships in a didactic manner. Wasn't this supposed to be about an exiled president and his trusty general invading Costa Rica? Let's look back at the bookjacket... nope, this is about an exiled president and his trusty general talking about invading Costa Rica. Abandoned on page 31 due to sheer boredom.

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review 2015-10-09 08:13
Under attack
Last Chance - Lindsay McKenna

This book is the beginning of a new series, DELOS.  This means Delos Home School Charities, for the purpose of this book, anyway.  It is a part of a large corporation that wanted to give back.


It has Lia Cassidy, after a horrific injury and attack.  She has her scars and seems to offend those who see her.  This makes her want to find a place far away to settle for a while to make plans for the future.  She also wants to work with kids.  She is hired to manage the school down in Costa Rica.  While there, she and two other teachers help a woman escape the clutches of a known drug dealer.


While under attack, Lia must run for her life and stay alive long enough for help to arrive and get her out of there.  Thanks to her military training - she manages to hide just enough.  Can she trust who comes to rescue her?


This is a short story leading us into the next installment in the series, Nowhere to Hide. Like all of the authors books, this story is fast paced and very compelling.  Edge of your seat action, and personally, I cannot wait to read the next book.  I give this story a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!



***This ARC copy provided by the author for an honest review only. 

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review 2013-01-02 00:00
Costa Rica: A Traveler's Literary Companion
Costa Rica: A Traveler's Literary Companion - Barbara Ras,Barbara Ras,Katherine Silver,Carmen Naranjo I read this collection of short stories on my vacation in Costa Rica and I found it lent an interesting depth to my trip. Most of the stories are about hard lives of manual labor for the banana company, and grinding poverty. It's easy to overlook that part of the history while playing tourist because of the easygoing friendliness and warmth of the Ticos and the natural beauty of the country. So as travel reading, it's first rate. Speaking as a reader, many of the stories were good reading, but the book is worth the price just for the excellent and disturbing short story "Here" by Louis Ducoudray.
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review 2011-12-20 00:00
The Birds of Costa Rica: A Field Guide - Richard Garrigues, Robert Dean Costa Rica. Yes, I read all of it. I'm like that with some field guides. This one features somewhat larger illustrations than many. Our Costa Rican birding guide isn't taken with the color register (he blamed the printing process), but in many cases, I found it more accurate than the other guidebook I was using. The illustration of the keel-billed toucan, for example, was much more true to life. The intention of this handbook is to omit information unneccesary for identification, and this it does, while bolding field marks and behavioral information that assists differentiation. I found it easy to use in the field.
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