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review 2014-04-28 08:51
Could have been a great novel with better editing
OCEAN OF FEAR - Helen Hanson

This techno thriller has a great story premise, but there's too much that needs correction before any serious, or critical reader can finish it without scratching their head.

The author often uses words or expressions that are just off the mark.
Like crank on instead of crank up. He wended his way (really?) and putted up (eh? I have no idea what verb this is supposed to be, but the author uses is on more than one occasion to convey movement, however to putt is a golf term and has nothing to do with travelling at any speed) the Empire Grade.
It gets even weirder. Bikes and backpacks bumped uphill on their own. There is the closing of the sun (sunset). She gives Lidocaine (which should not be written with a capital since it is not a proper noun) time to make magic. Just a few examples.

But then there's the unbelievable things, things that make you think, "Hold on." Like the fact a character needs to chirp (?) his car alarm and trail the sound to find his ride. Can't he remember where he parked his car? Or silence spontaneously followed news, but the listeners are already silent while listening to the recap. However the news brought them back to discussion. Eh? As far as I've read there was no discussion, one told his version of the events and the others listened, in silence. But anyway then Baxter continued with the story. I'm pretty sure he wasn't interrupted in the first place.

Then there is the matter of punctuation and choice of words that is often off and combined with an overuse of the word that. To be honest more than once I thought there was a funny choice of words like when the mc stretched out a quaking hand. Why use fancy words to try and show me his hands trembled?

But then the story got me and lost me again when inconsistencies kept popping up such as, without going into detail, a person being with someone at one point and then a witness saying she hasn't seen that person for a while. The witness is an unimportant character and has no reason to lie. After fifty minutes of testing they stop the test, yet a few paragraphs later it's suddenly turned into two hours of testing. Which was the original plan, but like mentioned the test was broken of after fifty minutes.
And later on a character leaves on a very silent boat only to suddenly be back waiting for another at a rowboat, one the rescue team had no prior knowledge of. However a chapter later it is made to seem as if it had been the plan al along. It is plot hole repair at its worse.

Plus the occasional tense shift and usage of filters pulled me out off the story.

Yet, the novel as a whole was compelling enough to want to know more, so I kept reading. Like I said, great story premise, enough tension, at moments very well written, if only there hadn't been the separate issues that could have been solved before publication. I suspect another round of editing by a pro would have made this novel shine like it should have.

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photo 2014-03-13 02:14

"When there isn't enough reading, there is a lot of shooting"


It's been exactly a month since the protests started, a month of violence, a month of government repression against the students, and all the citizens who doesn't want a dictatorship.






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text 2013-11-25 15:15
Birds of Venezuela (Princeton Paperbacks) - Steven L. Hilty

It has arrived in the mail.  I have until mid-March to study before heading to Venezuela.  Life is good!

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review 2013-07-01 00:00
Hugo Chavez: The Definitive Biography of Venezuela's Controversial President
Hugo Chavez - Cristina Marcano Political biography, current to 2004, with hasty postscript regarding 2006 election.

Writers work for one of the opposition newspapers, but the text is not a demonology. It does try to strike a faux balance in Fox News sense, such as when they suggest that both sides have a point when opposition accuses Chavez of “encouraging class conflict” and Chavez says “the nation had previously been living under the false illusion of harmony” (260). It’s hard to sympathize with authors and the opposition when they suggest that lying about harmony is a good thing and commenting on existing class conflict is a bad thing.

Volume does have its uses, such as a succinct background on Chavez, the 1992 coup, the 1998 election, the numerous elections thereafter (which authors do not assert to be fraudulent, and note an opposition accusation of electoral fraud on only one occasion), the April 2002 coup & countercoup.

Some chapters are ineffective. E.g., the introduction sets the tone with “in the long run his economic policies will surely hurt the material well being of most Venezuelans, and his authoritarian behavior is clearly eroding the basic political freedoms that the country enjoyed for decades” (xix)--gotta love naked dogmatism at the outset. Late chapters on Chavez’s sex life and family troubles are simply salacious gossip, and I am surprised that the authors included it, because now I think that they’re fit to write for fashion magazines and scandal rags, rather than serious work. Another late chapter is about Chavez’s use of the media, which is half gossip, half analytical, but of little importance. Because authors are part of the media, they overemphasize the importance of their industry.

Chavez’s ideology is hard to pin down. By 2006 he was talking about “Bolivarian socialism” and “twenty-first century socialism” (293). No idea what the content of that might be. Though he enacted land reform upon first being elected, which is one thing that pissed off the rightwing initially(145), he otherwise governed to “use protectionist capitalism to generate social balance” (149). He apparently lost leftwingers because “despite his invective against savage capitalism and globalization, Chavez opened the telecommunications, gas, and utilities sectors to foreign investors and continued to follow the guidelines recommended by the IMF” (148-49). Some accused “you haven’t touched a single hair on the ass of anyone in the economic sector” (id). So, yeah, not really seeing the far left content.

Authors don’t know what to make of any of that, nor do they present controversial statutes for analysis, merely mentioning that a statute on oil or censorship or whatever was passed, and that many people did not like it. Well, no shit that the ox doesn’t like getting gored. The question on each gored ox is whose, how, and why, which this volume passes over. Authors main concern is that Chavez wants power, “more power,” “always power,” and so on. It’s a wearisome refrain, as though pursuit of nebulously defined “power” is something that they bother to mention regarding anyone else.

Volume also, unforgivably, passes over in near silence the US involvement in the 2002 coup, mentioning only that Chavez accused the US of involvement.

Probably a decent introduction to Chavez, overall.
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review 2013-03-29 00:00
Comandante: Myth and Reality in Hugo Chavez's Venezuela - Rory Carroll BOTWBBC blurb: The political career of Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías had an inauspicious start. A failed coup in 1992 led to a two-year prison sentence. But Chåvez was nothing less than resilient. He returned to win the 1999 election and remained in power until his death from cancer on March 5th this year.Throughout his presidency he made friends and enemies in almost equal measure. To the Venezuelan working classes, who benefited from many of his social reforms, he was an heroic figure. To other elements of Venezuelan society, he was considered manipulative and autocratic. Abroad, his reputation was similarly polarised - the US in particular, fired by his alliance with Cuba, found Chávez an antagonistic figure.As Gabriel García Márquez wrote in 1999, after flying from Cuba to Caracas with the new president, "While he sauntered off with his bodyguards of decorated officers and close friends, I was overwhelmed by the feeling that I had just been travelling and chatting pleasantly with two opposing men. One to whom the caprices of fate had given an opportunity to save his country. The other, an illusionist, who could pass into the history books as just another despot."Rory Carroll joined The Guardian as a reporter in 1997. After spells in Rome, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Irishman took over the paper's Baghdad bureau. On October 19th, 2005 Carroll was abducted, but released unharmed a day later. In April 2006, he was appointed The Guardian's Latin American correspondent, and worked out of Caracas for the next six years. In 2011, he was long-listed for The Orwell Prize.Writer: Rory Carroll Reader: Jack Klaff Abridger: Pete NicholsProducer: Karen Rose A Sweet Talk production for BBC Radio 4.Rory Carroll introduces Comandante: Inside Hugo Chavez's Venezuela
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