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      28.12.2004 13:32
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      The Three of U.S.: A New Life in New York by Joanna Coles and Peter Godwin


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      Joanna and Peter are two British journalists / authors who live in New York. Joanna writes on occasion for the Guardian and various glossies, and Peter writes books with scintillating titles such as 'A white boy in Africa'. They're also a 30 something un marries, childless couple as the book begins. And this book is a diary, written day by day by each of them in turn, of 9 months of their life in the late 90s. Why 9 months? Well maybe the first line of the book can help:

      JOANNA: The test is negative. There is no pink line in the second box on the tester stick, but I'm sure I am pregnant.

      The book is in fact a pregnancy diary, written by the couple as the months progress, but in true contemporary style, it's much more Bridget Jones than What To Expect When You're Expecting. And though the main theme is this new baby, the book incorporates numerous other fun anecdotes from their new American life, even if these all do end up baby themed as a result of the impending arrival. So we hear about how dreadful moving house is in the city when they have to do it....because of the baby. And they tell us about their little misadventure with pasta tongs and Peter's head....all in the name of simulating a forceps delivery. What's funny is that since this book was written (about 6 years ago), things that might once have seemed fascinating chestnuts of NYC life have now become typical of just about everywhere in the UK too - yoga being fashionable, groceries being 24 hours, Starbucks being on every corner.

      It seems funny to talk about characters in what is essentially a what-really-happened diary, but in a way, this is exactly what the people who appear in the book are. As the writers, Joanna and Peter could obviously tone down or hype up their personalities as appropriate, though the fact that each is writing various segments means that things they might try to change individually still emerge from the other's tales. In addition to the pair, we are also invited, albeit for a very short time, into the lives of various other people. There are their mothers (one neurotic, one eccentric), their fathers (largely un memorable), their friends, both ex-pat and native. Their yoga teacher (poised and serene) and their labour coach (the exact opposite). The elusive globe trotting Andrew Solomon, a friend of, well, all their friends, who say the pair just *have* to meet him. The Key West estate agent who tries so, so hard to sell them a property, despite it being ravaged by a hurricane that's still hovering over head.

      I've never had personal contact with the British approach to pregnancy and birth, but I still can't help but feel that the American way, and the NYC way in particular, is louder, brasher, more full of life and over the top than anywhere else. At first their are overwhelmed with the American standards, and the fact that these actually extend into the weird world of Obs and Gynae.

      JOANNA: The gynaecologist's office is far smarter than anything I have encountered in the British Health Service. With black leather seating and the latest editions of Vogue, Harper's Bizarre, , National Geographic, the New Yorker and Time, the reception is more like a discrete hotel lobby'.

      But, this soon changes. Suitable doctors and hard to find, hospitals are fully booked by the uber efficient, and they begin to suspect that a lot of the worry about preparation, tests, courses and whatever are all just a money making scam. At one point before her un travelable 3rd trimester, Joanna jets of home to England.

      JOANNA: I'm already high risk. I'm 36.
      HOTEL DOCTOR: That's not considered high risk in England...

      The change of voice is highlighted each time with the new speaker's name and date, as well as a switch from a sans serif font to a not so sans one in my copy, but this difference is so mild that someone fully absorbed in the story wouldn't notice. A change in font colour might work, but the appearance and then rapid disappearance of squiggly bits sure doesn't. This isn't a big issue, but it seems a shame that what they went so far to achieve fails miserably.

      This book is a funny read, but in a subtle way. It's mostly the little things that crop up again and again that made me laugh, like the pair's long running infatuation with Richard Dreyfuss, an elusive resident of their new building, or Peter's obsession with the number-sold tally of his own books on their Amazon page. It's also a nice book because of the detailed descriptions and imagery that are thrown up.

      JOANNA: The walls are quietly green, decorated with soothing scenes from Yosemite, each framed in black.; thundering waterfalls and proud, snow capped mountains. Each one is accompanied by a motivational slogan. "The bend in the road is not the end of the road - unless you fail to make the turn"; "Some people dream of success - others wake up and work at it".

      I suppose it's assumed that readers with have a vague knowledge of the city, but where this is true, it's only in relation to things you can pick up from books or films - you don't actually have to have walked along Broadway to know Zabar's is a deli, or to have stepped foot in the Meat Packing district to know what sort of clubs you'd fine there - watching the odd episode of Sex and the City would suffice.

      I bought this book because I liked the cover and the blurb on the back. It then sat on my bookshelf for about 4 years before I finally made myself read it, but I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. Having a male voice in equal ratio to a female one stopped it become too chick-litty, and even if you're not pregnant, have never been pregnant and never plan on being pregnant, it's a well told, interesting story to get your teeth into.


      Available second hand on Amazon for about £1.50 I picked it up in the Works for about that a few years back. ISBN : 000653158X


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        05.09.2004 16:29
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        My mum is a member of Omegatrend, a fast growing network organisation in Australia. It has also spread to other countries in Asia and is being established in the US. Personality Plus is one of the books on Omegatrend's reading list. My mum has read it and she enjoyed it so much and got so much knowledge out of it that she sent me a copy of it. I have only read half of it so far, but i love it so much that am recommending it. Florence Littauer, the author and her husband conduct marriage seminars, and personality conferences throughout the US. The book does not appear to have been written from a researcher's perspective, it appears to be writen more form the author's personal experience, which is what makes this book so enjoyable. Florence Littauer has divided people's personalitys into 4 categories. At the beginning of the book she has provided a personality scoring / profile test which you need to complete in order to get the most out of the book. At the end of this test, you add up all of the scores you have given yourself under the each personality, and you can tell which personality you have. Your scoring will be highest in one or 2 personalities and these are your dominant personality types. You have to be honest in this test, otherwise there is no point in reading on. Florence Littauer examines each personality type, looking at emotions, strengths and weaknesses. The aim of the book is to teach people how to understand different people's personalitys as well as your own and improve your relationships with others and achieve your potential. What makes this book interesting and fun to read, compared to other boring psychology / personality books that I had to read when I was at university is that the book is written from a real life perspective. There are amusing anecdotes in the story which people are able to relate to. While reading a section last night covering my personality, I found myself laughing
        at myself from the outside. I also learned something about myself that will help me relate better to others - Not everyone wants to hear the long version of a story. The four personalities are listed below with a statement from the book relating to them. Melancholy - Whether at home orat work, I keep everything organised and in it's place. Plegmatic - It's hard for me to express excitement about something, even when it's really important to me. Sanguine - When I am shopping, it's not unusual for me to forget where I parked the car. Choleric - I get annoyed when people don't follow my instructions to the letter. Which personality do you relate most to? If you work in a profession where you have to deal with people alot, or you want to improve relationships with other people, I would strongly recommend you track down this book and get it. It's not a boring text book, actually it is sold as a paperback. The ISBN is 0-8007-5445-X For more informatiohn on Florence Littauer look at - www.classervices.com/FlorenceLittauer.html or - www.peoplesuccess.com/littauer.htm or simply typre Florence Littauer into a search engine and it will come up with loads of sites related to her and her work.

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          23.05.2004 22:06
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          scotland

          In 1999, an historic event occurred in Scotland when, after almost 300 years, a Scottish Parliament was convened in Edinburgh. Therefore, at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century, Scotland started to throw off the shackles of English domination and begin the return to self-determination. This was the first parliament to sit in Edinburgh since 1707.
          This book, written by T.M. Devine, professor of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen, is a history of the Scottish nation during this period.

          This is a comprehensive, and well written chronicle of the last three centuries of Scottish history, a nation that despite its small population has had a disproportionate effect on the world's intellectual and industrial development.

          Scotland has almost always been misunderstood by the outside world. The usual perception of Scotland is of heather-clad highland views, quaint tartan paraphanelia, kilts, bagpipes, Scotch whisky, and a twee, Brigadoon-like ambience. Although these things all exist (mostly, it has to be said, for the tourist market), this is NOT the modern, urbanised country that is more typical of the Scotland of today.

          Scotland has, by many, been considered a colony of England ever since the time the Act of Union was signed. "However," writes Devine, "it was a colony that proudly refused to consider itself anything other than a separate nation, one that bound itself to historical fact and invented traditions alike in an effort to retain national identity."
          He continues:
          "Scotland fell to England for many reasons, not least of them its small and scattered population. Keenly aware of its status as a subject nation, Scotland still contributed greatly, and disproportionately, to the developme
          nt of the British Empire - not only by sending it's Highland regiments off to battle in distant lands and its people to colonize large parts of the world, but also by committing itself to industrial and technological development, a contribution that created great commercial fortunes in Edinburgh and London alike."

          The author charts the uneasy relationship between Scotland and England, focusing on the growth of the notion of independence and self-rule throughout the last three centuries. This led, in July 1999, to the historic meeting of the first Scottish Parliament since 1707. Anyone with an interest in Scotland's past, and present will find this book of great value.

          I found the opening chapter of this book a little heavy going - but I quickly got into the author's style and soon could enjoy reading the book chapter by self-contained chapter.



          The author splits the history of Scotland into four broad sections:

          1700-1760 - The political domination by England.

          1760-1830 - The increasing urbanisation of Scotland and the decline of the highland way of life.

          1830-1939 - The highland clearances, the emmigration of Scots and the influx of Irish immigrants.

          1939-2000 - The growth of Scottish nationalism in the aftermath of the second world war.

          Set against the backdrop of Britsh, European and World history, Devine examines Scotland's urban vitality as well as describing it's more traditional history. The book covers such key topics as the Act of Union, the Enlightenment, Industrialization, the Clearances, Religion, and the Road to Devolution.

          He examines the breakdown of traditional Scottish government, mainly due to English efforts to consolidate political and economic powe
          r over Scotland. (This included a movement in 1705 to declare all Scots aliens and subject to punitive import duties and taxes that would ruin the Scottish economy).

          Following issues that are economic, military, social and political, Devine traces Scottish history from an independent, sovereign state through the years as an 'equal' partner in the Union, to the present devolved Parliament. In particular, he details the London Parliament's struggle to deal with devolution while still maintaining (controlling?) the Union.
          Attention is focused on aspects of family life, the role of women, the development of education, church/state relationships, and the status of the royals in Scotland - It is wrong to say the present British monarch is Elizabeth II, because Elizabeth I was never queen in Scotland.

          Ideologists and historian may complain about this book. But for anyone who wants to know about Scottish history and today's society, it is an essential read.
          It is a different perspective than many will be accustomed to, as history (usually written by the victors), and in this case Scottish history, has traditionally been stated as fact from Oxford or Cambridge, not from Edinburgh.



          About the Author:
          T. M. Devine is University Research Professor and Director of the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies at the University of Aberdeen. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.



          Thanks for reading

          ©proxam2004

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            29.02.2004 07:07
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            > > > > > > > > > > > > > The capitals fix won't paste into the review slot!!! > > > > > > > > > > > > > . > > . No this is not about the bible or anything as controversial,I'm afraid but do read on. Now to me 'non-fiction in general' would seem to be a vague description of a review topic.Does it mean that I'm to review the subject of non-fiction books as a genre or perhaps,as I will take it to mean,a general heading to fit my own particular choice of non-fiction book under. So with this interpretation of the heading,or a case of semantics,I've decided to review two non-fiction titles. As the,possibly contentious,title suggests these are two books that I have read,re-read and regularly return to,considering them to be highly informative and valuable to me on a regular basis. Both are written by the same author,are on a very similar subject,published by the same company and even look similar so I'll review them together where possible. They are;Four-Stroke Performance Tuning and Modern Engine Tuning,both written by A.Graham Bell and published by Haynes and they both retail at £17.99/$36.95US General Content *************** Four-Stroke Performance Tuning as the title suggests is about tuning four-stroke engines for performance,aimed at the enthusiast and race engine builder it is comprehensive and detailed work yet written in 'plain English',as much as possible,for even those with the most basic of understanding to comprehend. Modern Engine Tuning is basically an up-dated version that while having a lot in common with the first book dwells mainly on not only tuning but debunking alot of the myth that goes with modern emmissions engines. Infact,both these volumes aim to dispel alot of the 'Max Power/pub&#
            39; rhetoric that seem to mystify this subject.Rather like the art critic that enthralls the crowd with his interpretation of a painting which no-one will disagree with because they don't want to look stupid,the engine tuning business is full of claims and boasts and mis-information. A.Graham Bell goes through the subject step-by-step using practical examples,diagrams,illustrations and tables to back up what he is explaining. Lay out ******* Taking FSPT first, This book contains a preface,ten chapters,an appendix(Table of Useful Equivalents i.e. cm/inches,hp/kW) and an index. In the preface he sets down his aim to give real in-depth and fundamental information and engineering principles for the home tuner while extending the knowledge of the race engine builder. Chapter one is an introduction to the subject, explaining the four cycles of a four stroke engine but also some of the claims and counter claims that advertisers and magazines may make,trying to get you to part with your money. Chapters two till nine concentrate on a particular area of the engine,for example,two descibes the cylinder head,with formula for working out how to calculate gas flow speed at certain levels of valve-lift through to the best throat and port shape for a particular type of combustion chamber. Chapter six,for example,is centred on the camshaft and valve-train,bringing light on areas like cam timing and valve overlap,while eight explains ignition systems and ignition advance. In chapter ten he goes on to talk about dyno tuning,power measurement and gearbox/final drive ratios. The whole book is written,based on the authors extensive knowledge and experience of building,tuning and modifying high-performance road,rally and race engines. It lays out the subject in an accessible style that is highly informative while never 'talking down' to the reader and never losing
            the readers interest(assuming the readers interest in the subject matter,of course). All the various principles are explained in background detail which is both in-depth and easy to grasp. Backed up with drawings and tables,the author frequently uses his own experiences and work he has done or been involved in to prove a point or the truth in what he is explaining. There are also many tables where he will set out the power output of a standard car alongside one that has been tuned by a 'garage' and another where he has modified it in accordance to the example he is explaining.This makes it easy to see and understand. Modern Engine Tuning ******************** As this book covers in great detail the information and principles involved in race and rally tuning,in particular,the second book - Modern Engine Tuning - is aimed more at the 'street' tuner,mainly concentrating on modern emmissions engines. The layout is the same as the previous book with each chapter concentrating on a particular aspect of the engine though there are eighteen chapters in this volume. Taking in turbo charging and intercooling and pollution control while seperating other subjects into single chapters such as the camshaft and a seperate chapter on the valve-train there are extra data and information on suspension and brakes,gearing etc. The last chapter 'Tall Tales,or True?' endeavours to debunk some popular myths spread by some of the car tuning firms and magazines that plague this subject. He writes a widely-held belief as a statement,for example Such and such an air filter will give your engine an extra 10bhp. Then he will go on to state whether he believes this to be true or not and on what basis he believes it or not. With the chapter on pollution control which he explains the purpose and function of most modern pollution control systems and whether they
            help or hinder your engines power this makes a very informative and highly relevant companion to the first book. You could easily read and understand the second book without the first as they are seperate and different manuals but the first one explains the basics to a greater degree that the second,concentrating on road emmissions engines as opposed to engines as a whole. In conclusion ************* If you've no interest in engine tuning then these would be of little use to you,these are specialised and comprehensive works on the subject that while not being overly jargon-based are none-the-less in-depth and full of engineering principles and formula,some basic knowledge is assumed and required. I have owned these books for several years and still regularly go back to them for ideas and inspiration as well as for interest sake and fully intend to buy the authors further works on turbo/super charging as I have found these two invaluable on a practical level. Four Stroke Performance Tuning RRP £17.99 Published by Haynes Author A.Graham Bell ISBN 1 85960 435 8 328 pages Modern Engine Tuning RRP £17.99 Published by Haynes Author A.Graham Bell ISBN 1 85960 866 3 271 pages Both books I highly recommend to those interested and involved with tuning engines.BB

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