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Ian Gordon Malcomson (Victoria, BC)
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The Ways of the World: (The Wide World - James Maxted 1)
The Ways of the World: (The Wide World - James Maxted 1)
Price: CDN$ 9.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Infiltrating the World of High Danger and Intrigue, May 3 2015
I'll never refuse the opportunity to read a new Goddard release. His latest one shouldn't disappoint those of us who like well written murder mysteries with a fair share of thrills, spills and suspense. Goddard is a master of developing, managing and completing very clever and sinuous plots based on very plausible circumstances. What would he be without a storyline that includes deference to history, a good dollop of intrigue, and a couple of heroic characters to do the heavy lifting when it comes to uncovering the truth. Throw in the fact that Goddard is a master of his prose and you have the ingredients for a rollicking good read. True to the subject of this story - international espionage and diplomacy - the author will take you on an exciting, roller-coast ride between the two main capitals of the known world of 1919 in search of clues to who murdered Sir Henry, a prominent member of the British delegation to the Versailles Conference. Given the strange events surrounding his death, Sir Henry's second son will honorably look for answers in places he has no business being. These are troubling times where the stakes are high as to how the world will settle out after a bloody and costly world war, and Max, the idealist, will quickly learn to sharpen his instincts in his attempt to penetrate that veil of secrecy surrounding the peace initiative. As usual, Goddard is not short on surprises, as apparent enemies turn friends and the investigation suddenly goes in a wildly different direction. What is reassuring here is that Goddard, ever cool and collected in his telling of the story, has things in hand and will, ultimately, deliver the reader safely to the next juncture in the life of the younger Maxted. One possible shortcoming in this novel is that we don't really get to appreciate what really motivates Max to do the phenomenal things he does: is he really the dutiful son who wants to restore the family honor by bringing his father's killers to justice, or is he so driven to find the truth no matter what the consequences are? Fortunately, Goddard has two more books in this trilogy to deal with that issue. Otherwise, a mainly satisfying start to another modern tale of political gamesmanship, brinkmanship, and romantic devilry.

Zeno's Conscience: A Novel
Zeno's Conscience: A Novel
by Italo Svevo
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.96
43 used & new from CDN$ 7.41

5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic With Something for Everyone, April 29 2015
Like Ford Madox Ford's "The Good Soldier", this novel offers, in splendid fashion, all that needs to be said about the human existence from A-Z, all seen through the lens of an aging Italian businessman's memory as he reflects on a fitful yet adventuresome life. There are no dull moments here, no regrets, just simple wonderment at how he has come to be where he is, a solitary character wondering what life could still possibly have in store for him. His account, in diary form, tells of a personal life full of moments of angst, animus, amore, and avidity, all combining to produce one very unpredictable and bumpy ride through time and space. What makes this narrative so compelling a read is the clever way he navigates through it, becoming the sole existential survivor in a game without firm and fast rules. While other players around him are falling like bowling pins, Zeno, ever the self-absorbed sensualist and sybarite, manages to weather every storm that comes his way with an uncanny ease. The many experiences from the various stages of his life have taught him when to yield to circumstances that are beyond his control and when to push back in the name of honor and decency. In the end, Zeno will be rewarded for adopting his father's counterintuitiveness by not marrying the woman he loved but accepting her ugly sister who turned out to be truly devoted to him and gave him cildren in his old age. There are many more examples of similar ironic twists that make this story a fascinating take on the uncertainty and improbability of life. We can try all we want to make our way through life but, in the end, it is life's many forces that make us who we finally become.

Us Conductors
Us Conductors
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Siren of Hope Over Time, April 25 2015
This review is from: Us Conductors (Kindle Edition)
One of those anticipated great moments in time never comes to pass because circumstances always seem to get in the way at the very last moment. But being continually on the edge of making it as a spy, inventor, scientist or lover seems to offer the right momentum to take our hero Lem across time and space on the trip of a lifetime in search of true fulfillment. As a child of the Russian Revolution, he has seen it all: tyranny, tragedy, treachery, and trepidation. He has basically done everything requred of a human to stay alive in both the communist and capitalist world. He comes to America as a Bolshevik spy under the cover of an inventor who has designed and created an unbelievable device that snatches and plays sound waves from the far reaches of the ethereal realm. As he struggles to market this avant-garde technology, which is secretly meant to infiltrate American security systems, a number of strange events will change his life forever: the Great Depression, a beautiful female vocalist named Clara, jazz, and the Cold War. Each in their turn will reshape Lem to become more focused in his efforts to stay alive in a crazy, upside-down world. This man will do virtually anything in his wheelhouse to stay alive even if it means working for those who have so cruelly betrayed him, his own Russian masters, in the most punitive of environments, the Gulag, all because he desires to see his dream woman again by putting flesh to a disembodied voice. This novel is written in the form a love letter to Clara who he has never forgotten over the years when he first met her in the speakeasies of New York during the height of the Dirty Thirties when life was turning bad. His narrative is full of fascinating insights into how both ideological worlds are anything but the paradise they claim to be. What they do offer is the opportunity to succeed in spite of incredible adversity because when love gets hold of the human spirit, nothing can stand in its way. Even science plays second fiddle here.

Message to Adolf, Part 1
Message to Adolf, Part 1
by Osamu Tezuka
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 29.95
34 used & new from CDN$ 16.90

5.0 out of 5 stars Comic and Novel Come Together in One Incredible Tale of Political Intrigue, April 22 2015
Move over "Tintin" and give way to the harum-scarum, thrilling world of Japanese graphic comics. The artist and author Tezuka, in this series, has taken the popular genre of mangra cartooning to new levels by making it into an elaborate story where illustrations and dialogue come together in dramatic fashion to produce a believable tale of fact and fiction. The artwork is so finely detailed and explosively energized that each picture, by itself, literally comes alive in all its passion. The power of the narrative comes through here in its ability to combine a well travelled timeline that covers most of the years of Hitler's Third Reich between 1936 - the Berlin Games and 1945 - the detonation of the nuclear bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki with a more intriguing, uncertain subplot full of all kinds of weird and whacky events. This monumental work has everything a good story needs to be compelling, exciting, entertaining and suspenseful. The characters are purposely arrayed so as to evoke the greatest sense of conflict: Nazism vs. Judaism, freedom vs. tyranny; old vs. new; despair vs. hope; cowardice vs. courage; love vs. hate.The reader will have no trouble knowing who the villains are in this piece but the fact that they seem like their counterparts, to have nine lives, is testimony to the ability of Tezuka to take his readers on an unforgettable journey from one end of the world to the other through fascinating scenery, culture and war. Along the way life will have its fair share of unintended connections and ironic moments. And to think that the main object holding it all together is a mysterious packet of papers containing critical information about Hitler's true identity, on which the peace of the world hinges. It will take the heroic efforts of two other Adolfs to bring that message to a world in desperate need of good news.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate
Offered by Random House Canada, Incorp.
Price: CDN$ 14.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Close to the Point of No Return?, April 19 2015
One will never be able to accuse Klein, the consummate social and eco-activist, of underselling her point of view on what is wrong with the world out there. Her latest attack, in this book, is an alarming polemic directed at those corporate and political types who continue to insist that fossil fuels are our only dependable energy form. She argues, by way of some poignant examples, that oil, coal and natural gas are no longer acceptable natural resources for driving our economies, given the incredible harm they do to the environment. The game changer in this ongoing debate of conventional versus alternative is the fact that climate change seems to be gathering ominous momentum, while governments dither and big business remains preoccupied with its bottom-line. Taking the broadest stroke possible, Klein examines what she considers are the most anemic efforts to date to switch. Nobody comes off well in this tale of woe: even the prudent Norwegians, the modern Socialist liberators of South America, and that media darling billionaire jet-setter Richard Branson come in for a fair bit of skewering. If we are near midnight on this whole issue of saving the planet, Klein doesn't seem to suggest any other solution than to collectively rise up and seize the day by marching, demonstrating, occupying and continuing to get in the face of those who have the wrong agenda. Her populist call
for action comes with a somewhat reassuring word for her fans that she is doing her bit to save the planet by withdrawing to a quieter, less energy-driven world, somewhere in the pristine wilderness of the West Coast, where she has time to enjoy a world as it should exist. On this new environmental frontier she and her kind can fight Big Oil as it attempts to run tanker traffic up and down the BC coast. Capitalism is the enemy, and Klein spares no fury in attacking it for wanting to destroy the planet. This book is worth reading if only to acquaint oneself with how passionate the environmental movement really is when it comes to pursuing a do-or-die cause. Lots of interesting anecdotes and statistics in this study to reinforce the author's personal views.

MeasuPro BPM-80A Digital Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Heart Rate Detection, Hypertension Color Alert Display, Two User Modes, IHB Indicator, and Memory Recall
MeasuPro BPM-80A Digital Arm Blood Pressure Monitor with Heart Rate Detection, Hypertension Color Alert Display, Two User Modes, IHB Indicator, and Memory Recall
Offered by CrestView
Price: CDN$ 59.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Great for home use, April 15 2015
This is a well-crafted device with an easy-to-read and operated push-button screen. The sleeve is very easy to adjust on the upper arm. I especially like it that the blood pressure readings are categorized according to certain levels. It compares quite favourably with other available models and devices with regards to accuracy and convenience.

MeasuPro BPM-50W Digital Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with Heart Rate Detection, Hypertension Color Alert Display, Two User Modes, IHB Indicator and Memory Recall
MeasuPro BPM-50W Digital Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor with Heart Rate Detection, Hypertension Color Alert Display, Two User Modes, IHB Indicator and Memory Recall
Offered by CrestView
Price: CDN$ 39.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The convenience of being mobile, April 15 2015
For someone who likes to measure his blood pressure periodically because of an underlying cholesterol issue, this style of monitor is very handy. Accurate read out by way of comparison with other blood pressure devices makes it a keeper. The instructions on its operation and functions are easy to follow. For one who likes to keep records, its storage capacity holds up to sixty entries each for two users.

Party Of One: Stephen Harper And Canada's Radical Makeover
Party Of One: Stephen Harper And Canada's Radical Makeover
Offered by Penguin Group USA
Price: CDN$ 4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grist for the Mill for the Harper Haters, April 15 2015
From the outset, I have to concede that Harris has always produced well-paced, very focused studies on Canadian life. This one on the political life of the current prime minister of Canada is no exception. While much of what he shares with his readers, in his attempt to skewer the character of Stephen Harper, is old hat, he still uses it cleverly to portray a leader with a very troubling agenda. Yes, Harper is a control freak but Harris wants his readers to see something even more sinister in his ability to destroy the lives of those who get in his way. Loyalty is really a one-way street for Harper, so Harris would have us believe. Sure, Harper is known, like all politicos, to inflate the facts to make a point or gain an advantage but Harris wants us to see him as much more: an outright, unethical liar who routinely hangs out with bad boys. Harris, for his money, strongly believes that the myriad of Harper's faults can be traced to the fact that he is in the pocket of big oil interests. Take that away and he is nothing, so the argument goes. While I have great respect for Harris as a journalist, I think he missed the boat on this one. I would have liked to have seen a more balanced attempt at looking at how Harper, the supposed one-man party, has put and kept this show together for so long. There has to be something other than rogue politics, bad actors, and scrummy friends to make this happen. Simply cutting Harper down to size, in the form of one-sided, acerbic analysis, isn't going to solve the mystery of what makes Harper politically successful. Bringing the late Farley Mowat into the picture at the end, I thought, added a bit of a strange twist to Harris' case. Imagine calling on a late fellow islander, whose penchant for telling whoppers is legend, to give your book that extra little bit of credibility. This book was helpful in learning, once again, how determined Harper's detractors are in figuring out how to Pubicly villify him. Politics is a cunning game which Harper knows how to play, with the help of many like-minded Canadians, in his efforts to outsmart his opponents on the Left.

Plot for Peace (Bilingual)
Plot for Peace (Bilingual)
DVD ~ Winnie Mandela
Price: CDN$ 18.46

5.0 out of 5 stars Working to Make Peace Happen, April 12 2015
This review is from: Plot for Peace (Bilingual) (DVD)
Behind most, if not all, great moments in history like the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the freeing of Nelson Mandela is a sub-story or two that birthed them. This documentary acquaints its viewers with just one such fascinatingly complex back story that helps explain how apartheid in South Africa came to a surprisingly abrupt end in the early nineties because of the vision of one person, a French businessman cum diplomat named Jean-Yves Ollivier. Without this incredibly dedicated and articulate individual, it is not likely that apartheid would have had the soft landing that it did. Ollivier took it upon himself to bring all the parties together in the conflict, inside and outside of South Africa, on equal footing so that they could all contribute to the peace and potential economic well-being of the region. His intervention allowed for South Africa and its enemies, including Cuba, to start negotiations for an eventual successful military stand-down across the front-line states. It was always Ollivier's belief that the whole of Africa would suffer interminably if South Africa remained under siege and isolated from the rest of the world with the imposition of crippling sanctions. The key to getting South Africa normalized came through a concerted effort to restoring peace between countries. Once that was accomplished, the rest unraveled through basic internal changes in government inside South Africa leading to the eventual releasing of Mandela from prison. It took the facilitating tenacity and organizational savvy of this man and the support of western and African nations to find a way out of this very difficult impasse that was leading to large-scale war. In the end, it wasn't just one factor that changed this picture for the better. It was a whole slew of resolutions and determinations that brought South Africa in from the cold, and it all started with the vision of this wealthy but humble person working behind the scenes for the greater good of humanity.

Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia
Limonov: The Outrageous Adventures of the Radical Soviet Poet Who Became a Bum in New York, a Sensation in France, and a Political Antihero in Russia
by Emmanuel Carrère
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 20.49
31 used & new from CDN$ 9.23

4.0 out of 5 stars The Upside Down Life of a Dissident, April 10 2015
This is one hard-headed, tough-minded, in-your-face, contrarily-driven Russian dissident who knows how to get in the face of the political establishment, whatever the cause. Carriere, in this fascinating biography of Edouard Limonov, covers the full gamut of this enigmatic life in an attempt to get at what makes him tick. Raised in post-war Ukraine to fend for himself, Limonov definitely picked up some street smarts from being part of a criminal organization. During the fifties and the sixties he became such an outspoken critic of the Soviet system that Moscow deported him to the west along with other dissidents like Solzhenitsyn. As the story goes. it was not always easy for Limonov to find his voice of protest outside his homeland. Westerners, in the heart of the Cold War, were on to other issues and had little time to include a highly volatile opponent of established governments that limited the freedoms of the individual, even outside the Soviet Union. This modern gadfly eventually returned to Russia in the nineties to face a new reality. The new enemy was now statism dressed up in the form of a kleptocracy, and Limonov immediately, true to his libertarian beliefs, switched sides to take up the cause of the extreme right while declaring himself as a reborn Marxist. This book is a concerted effort to track this 'outrageous' life in search of what makes someone like Limonov tick. The conclusions drawn here might be summed up as simply being a matter of one man adjusting his views to match the changing times. Those who change, according to the times, survive: those who don't, get swept away in the tides of history. The 'loony' or flake factor in Limonov is strictly a tool he employs to keep his enemies at bay. Nobody, including Stalin, would want to mess with some hardened, seemingly crazy ideologue who always has a point to make, convenient or not. All told, Limonov's journey is one of seeking that place in life where he can ultimately settle down and be respected for being different: the lot of most dissidents, I suspect.

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