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Archive for May, 2012

In general I enjoy reading historical fiction. However, since I don’t know very much about early 19th century naval etiquette I found myself feeling quite confused several times while reading this book. As a prerequisite to reading Master and Commander a course on British, French and Spanish naval battles and policies around the year 1800 should be taken. I’m only slightly over exaggerating.

For starters, Patrick O’Brian wrote the book in period appropriate language. The naval terms took a while to learn but O’Brian did a good job of introducing the reader to these nicknames by which the crew referred to them. However, what was very unclear was the story itself. The only character I truly understood was Captain Jack Aubrey. However, the character of Dr. Maturin is quite fuzzy around the edges to me. The summary on the back of the book says he is a secret intelligence agent. Did I skip a chapter? Dr. Maturin, along with a few others aboard the HMS Sophie, were part of an Irish resistance group in the past. They tried to hide that past for the sake of being allowed to serve in the British Navy. This could have been elaborated on and made a great story.  I definitely did not pick up on the fact that he was a secret intelligence agent of any sort. The lack of story details and elaboration about anything is my biggest gripe about this book. So O’Brian supposedly writes amazing naval battles? Sure, it is possible with the few pages devoted to each battle that someone could recreate a magnificent battle in their head, but that would take a great deal of imagination.

O’Brian hints that he’s got a story to tell, but falls short on the delivery. I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they are really interested in the subject matter. Do yourselves a favor and just watch the movie. 

Master and Commander is just the first in a series about Captain Aubrey, needless to say, I won’t be reading any more of them. And since I already own the second in the series, that says a lot.  I rated this book 3/5 stars. I may not think O’Brian is a good story-teller, but he obviously knows how to write. I was also impressed with the period specific language. I’m quite sure he spent a great deal of time doing research. This is the only reason I give this book 3 stars.

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During my last semester at Millersville University I conducted a research project on cross cultural communication between Americans and Argentines. My research targets American volunteers going to Buenos Aires. My final product was a blog.

How different could American and Argentine culture really be? Well, you’ll find out.

The first mistake you can make is to assume that everybody views the world the same way you do. This opinion will hinder communication across cultures. Although the information contained in this blog can help anyone going to Argentina, I’ve geared it towards volunteers; people who ABSOLUTELY need to learn proper communication skills in order to provide adequate aid work. Research has shown there to be a high failure rate among those who have a low cultural competence of the country in which they are working.

I’m assuming that all volunteers (humanitarian aid workers, human rights activists, etc.) have reached the conclusion about themselves that they care about others and wish to help them. The organization that you volunteer with will have its own procedures and ideas about how to provide services (whether it is education, healthcare, etc.). But my blog will help you learn critical elements of Argentine culture and communication styles that are very different from our own, yet quite essential to understand in order to build intercultural relationships and trust. Increasing your cultural competence of Argentina will also lower your anxiety when experiencing culture shock.

If you are interested in cross cultural communication in Argentina please check out my blog:

Argentine-American Cross Cultural Communication @ http://crossculturalargentina.wordpress.com/

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The first Dean Koontz book I read was Intensity, you can read the review  here.  Koontz is one of the most popular authors in the horror genre. I thought the book was quite good, except for the ending.

 Koontz devoted several pages to making sure the book had a happy ending and so we could feel all warm and fuzzy inside after such a scary story. The ending was awful. The book has 12 chapters, I suggest you only read 11 of them.

My first experience with Koontz was bitter-sweet. Great book. Horrible Ending. I’ve now read a total of 5 Dean Koontz books and most of them have been excellent, except one which good story line was ruined by the ending (Your Heart Belongs to Me), and another whose ending I’ve decided to forget exists (Intensity).

Seize the Night

Finished September 12, 2011

Seize the Night is the second book in the Moonlight Bay Trilogy featuring Christopher Snow, a man suffering from a rare disorder called xeroderma pigmentosum which forces him to avoid the sunlight which is harmful to him and to carpe noctem (seize the night). Chris lives in Moonlight Bay, a town haunted by a past of government genetic experimentation in which his parents had participated. Those experiments were long over and the military base was abandoned, or so it was thought. When the town’s children begin to disappear Chris and his friends follow the trail to Fort Wyvern and learn that the base wasn’t entirely abandoned and that many sinister things still exist at the base.

I rated this book 5/5 stars. It included aspects of science fiction and the paranormal, as well as horror and suspense. Although this is the second installment in a trilogy, I did not have a hard time picking up on the character relations without reading the book’s prequel.

Relentless

Finished September 21, 2011

What happens when an author responds to a negative review a critic gave him? Well hopefully not what happened to Cullen “Cubby” Greenwich. He just wanted to talk to the critic Shearman Waxx. Cubby takes his son Milo to lunch at a restaurant that Waxx frequents hoping to spot him. What starts out as a very humerous situation at the restaurant soon turns deadly. Waxx critiques others, he does not tolerate criticism of his own work. Shearman Waxx is a relentless psychopath who utterly destroys anything or anyone that attempts to question his literary criticism.

This book grabbed my attention immediately. The story is fast paced and at some parts quite chilling. I rated this book 5/5 stars.

The Good Guy

Finished October 13 2011

Timothy Carrier was just having a beer at the bar when a mysterious man slips him an envelope with Linda Paquette’s photo, address and some cash. He was mistaken for a contract killer the man had hired. Timothy considered it his moral duty to make sure this woman was safe. Eventually it is discovered that Timothy was not in fact a contract killer and he finds himself also being hunted by a killer.

The Good Guy is a stereotypical Koontz thriller. The main characters find themselves being chased by a psychopath who won’t stop until they are dead. Koontz creates many twists and unexpected events in his novels that keeps each story unique in its own right despite the similar plots.

Your Heart Belongs to Me

Finished December 16, 2011

Your Heart Belongs to Me starts out with a great storyline. People dueling about who gets pushed to the top of the heart transplant list. Those with enough money are able to buy an organ without questioning where it came from. Ignoring the clues that suggest the heart came from a recently living healthy person who fell victim of a murderous scam. Ryan Perry is one of those ignorant men who received one of these transplanted hearts. Soon he discovers he is being stalked and terrorized from a member of the victim’s family.

About 75% of this book is great. However, the ending is just awful. This book is rated 3/5 stars. All of Koontz’s books have happy endings (at least the ones I’ve read). Sometimes it flows with the story. But in this book it does not. Sometimes a great story needs a sad and suspenseful ending. I would not recommend this book.

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Class of 2012

I did it! I graduated May 12, 2012 from Millersville University!

Anthropology, B.A.
Concentration: Archaeology
Minor: History
Magna Cum Laude

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