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Reviews Written by
Pierre Gauthier (Montréal)
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Faut-il pendre les architectes ? [ancienne édition]
Faut-il pendre les architectes ? [ancienne édition]
by Philippe Trétiack
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 13.95
5 used & new from CDN$ 13.95

1.0 out of 5 stars Faut-il pendre les journalistes ?, Aug. 19 2012
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Bien qu'ayant une formation d'architecte, l'auteur est journaliste de profession. Cette oeuvre au titre provocateur correspond justement beaucoup plus à un long éditorial qu'à un essai pouvant constituer une référence durable.

En effet, le texte colle sur l'actualité de 2001 avec de multiples références, essentiellement franco-françaises, à des projets courants et à des personnes précises. Ainsi, on discute de la tenue possible des Jeux olympiques à Paris en ... 2008 et de l'implantation de la Fondation Pineault en Île-de-France alors qu'elle occupe plutôt deux immeubles à Venise depuis 2009.

La postface écrite en 2011 ne corrige que bien partiellement cette désuétude.

Il est étonnant qu'un éditeur ait accepté de publier à nouveau ce livre qui présente donc un intérêt bien limité.

Zadig, Ou La Destine, Histoire Orientale Par Mr. de Voltaire.
Zadig, Ou La Destine, Histoire Orientale Par Mr. de Voltaire.
by Voltaire
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 28.95
9 used & new from CDN$ 18.82

3.0 out of 5 stars D'intérêt historique avant tout !, Aug. 18 2012
Ceux qui ont lu `Candide' ne seront pas dépaysés avec `Zadig'. Il s'agit également d'un court roman présentant les mésaventures fantaisistes d'un personnage de carton pâte dans un univers du même acabit.

De toute évidence, il y a de multiples références à des situations contemporaines au moment de la publication. Toutefois, pour un lecteur contemporain, celles-ci demeurent largement opaques. Ainsi, l'humour tombe souvent à plat de même que l'audace dont l'auteur a sans doute fait preuve.

Cette courte oeuvre, facile à lire, est donc recommandée avant tout à ceux qui souhaitent mieux comprendre le 18e siècle.

Little Dorrit (A)
Little Dorrit (A)
by Dickens Charles
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 43.44
12 used & new from CDN$ 32.34

1.0 out of 5 stars Simply Absurd!, Aug. 11 2012
This review is from: Little Dorrit (A) (Audio CD)
This novel does not rank among Dickens' most famous ... probably because it simply is not one of the best.

The plot is completely unrealistic and convoluted. It lacks in continuity and seems to have developed over the months as the novel's instalments were published. All of a sudden, poor characters become rich. Major characters die. A lady in a wheelchair runs out of her house all the way to a prison. Two first cousins marry.

The characters themselves are one-dimensional and uninteresting.

The whole is barely relieved by few moments of humour.

Thank goodness this was the abridged version!

How to Read Bridges: A Crash Course In Engineering and Architecture
How to Read Bridges: A Crash Course In Engineering and Architecture
by Edward Denison
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
23 used & new from CDN$ 11.11

1.0 out of 5 stars Not Up to Par!, Aug. 7 2012
Sadly, this new addition to the `How to Read' series does not meet the standards set by its predecessors.

In fact, reading it turns out to be a rather frustrating experience because of its multiple shortcomings, some minor, some major.

These include:
* numerous redundancies despite the brevity of the text;
* a poor organization, largely by bridge type, without clear explanation of how these evolved, the advantages and disadvantages of each, etc.
* a lack of basic structural explanations and the (frequent) mention that a member cannot be at once in tension and in compression;
* an exaggerated number of British examples;
* colour photos that break with the monochrome concept of the other books in the series;
* questionable claims such as Venice's Rialto Bridge being a `place of tranquillity, contemplation and romance' (page 71) or the Eiffel Tower capturing `the hearts and minds of Parisians' (page 90);
* the inclusion of no map whatsoever;
* measurements given only in feet and pounds.

Overall, this book is disappointing and cannot be recommended to any category of potential readers.

Ivanhoe(CD)(Unabr.)
Ivanhoe(CD)(Unabr.)
by Sir Walter Scott
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 37.14
17 used & new from CDN$ 30.47

3.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable!, July 28 2012
This review is from: Ivanhoe(CD)(Unabr.) (Audio CD)
This classic novel includes all the archetypes of a medieval story: knights, castles, tournaments, battles, damsels in distress, etc. Amusingly _ with debatable concern for historical accuracy _ it also includes famous characters such as Richard the Lion Heart, Prince John, Robin Hood and Friar Tuck.

Strangely, narration is not linear and often the action is rewound to look at the same events a second time, from the perspective of different characters. This makes things a bit difficult to follow, especially in audio format. There is also a surprising emphasis on Isaac and Rebecca, of Jewish faith, who appear practically more prominently than Ivanhoe himself. It must be mentioned as well that there is a strong anti-Catholic bias, the Church, its priests and its rituals being somewhat ridiculed throughout the work.

Still the result is entertaining and those unfamiliar with this famous work will not be disappointed.

Charles Dickens: Dickens' Bicentenary 1812-2012 [With Facsimile Items]
Charles Dickens: Dickens' Bicentenary 1812-2012 [With Facsimile Items]
by Lucinda Dickens Hawksley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: CDN$ 42.56
16 used & new from CDN$ 29.28

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile!, July 23 2012
This well illustrated book published on the 200th anniversary of Dickens' birth provides a substantial overview of his life and work. Either two or four pages are systematically devoted to one of his works or to a specific aspect of his life such as `Married Life `, `Dickens and Detectives' or `Living in Paris'.

The approach is honest and rigorous though certainly not overly analytical or critical.

The book includes facsimile memorabilia of such articles as manuscripts, playbills and a photo album. These are a bit gimmicky but do provide the reader with a sense of discovery and intimacy.

Overall, this pleasant work will enlighten any Dickens amateur and encourage him or her to read more of him and about him.

How to Read New York: A Crash Course in Big Apple Architecture
How to Read New York: A Crash Course in Big Apple Architecture
by Will Jones
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 14.40
20 used & new from CDN$ 11.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Value!, July 22 2012
Like the previous books in the `How to Read `series, this short, easily portable work presents its topic in clear, well organized fashion. In fact, buildings grouped not by date of construction per se but rather by general style: Classical and Colonial, Renaissance, Decorative Styles, Modern, etc.

Much emphasis is placed on illustrations, all monochrome. Contrary to other books in the collection, however, photos are included, often artistic, frequently vintage and always black and white.

Though unpretentious in appearance, this book certainly results from very substantial research. It is rigorous and includes location maps, a glossary, a list of prominent architects and their works, additional resources both printed and on the web and of course an index.

Those who know little of New York will gain much from it and those who do know the city will want to discuss why such a building was included or excluded.

INDES NOIRES (LES)
INDES NOIRES (LES)
by JULES VERNE
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.16
10 used & new from CDN$ 3.51

3.0 out of 5 stars Claustrophobes, s'abstenir !, July 20 2012
À juste titre, Jules Verne est célèbre pour avoir anticipé plusieurs aspects de la vie courante du 20e siècle. On réalise moins qu'il a parfois présenté des phénomènes qui sont loin de s'être matérialisés. C'est le cas dans le présent roman où une ville souterraine est construite afin de plus facilement exploiter une mine. Certains personnages n'en sortent pratiquement jamais pour aller au soleil ! Ainsi, le titre du livre est quelque peu trompeur puisqu'il ne réfère aucunement à l'Inde mais bien à une houillère écossaise.

L'aeuvre est courte, comprend des personnages simples et attachants et de nombreux rebondissements. Elle conviendra parfaitement à un jeune public.

Moll Flanders
Moll Flanders
by Daniel Defoe
Edition: Audio CD
Price: CDN$ 56.06
9 used & new from CDN$ 56.06

5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating!, July 1 2012
This review is from: Moll Flanders (Audio CD)
It is difficult to believe that this audacious novel was written by the same author as Robinson Crusoe, that classic among all that is definitely traditional and even somewhat staid!

Here, a very independent minded woman pretends to tell us her life story marked with bigamy, theft, incest, embezzlements, etc.

Since the overall plot is described from the start, the whole suspense lies in how what is announced will actually fit in (it does).

The novel may be read at multiple levels since the degree of truthfulness on the narrator's part is of course questionable given that she tells the reader about her life based on deceiving others.

She certainly seems completely amoral and her single motivation appears to be money. Thus, in very modern fashion, her loyalties vary according to her own interest. For much of the work, she complains that she has no friend but has no qualms time and again to abandon her own children. She does develop a very close relationship with another woman, although it seems to be somewhat unidirectional in her favour. If it was as intimate as one may deduce, it certainly would have been completely scandalous in her days. Although the author does not shy away from providing precise details in many instances, he remains elusive on this account.

This enthralling work written three centuries ago is very pertinent today and warmly recommended to all (adult) readers.

The California Missions: History, Art, and Preservation
The California Missions: History, Art, and Preservation
by Edna E. Kimbro
Edition: Hardcover
14 used & new from CDN$ 39.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Very Professional!, July 1 2012
Well researched, well written and well illustrated, this book is highly recommended.

The first half presents the chronological and thematic history of missions in California, from their inception in the 18th century to the present. The second part devotes four pages to each of the missions, including a description of what may be seen today.

To Californians, this book provides a detailed but pertinent account of the first non-native settlements in the area. To non Californians, it constitutes an excellent introduction to a visit and a worthwhile souvenir afterwards.

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