Friday, April 28, 2017

Flying Dinosaurs – Book Review

Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds
by John Pickrell

Birds are dinosaurs. Yeah, you read it correctly. Birds are dinosaurs! Nearly 10,000 species of birds living in the world today are dinosaurs – these include the minuscule bee hummingbird, the huge ostrich, and the modest chicken! (To know some of the implications, click here.) To quench my thirst for knowledge of this, I embarked on a journey to finding a great resource book. And... I found this book! Honestly, it was quite costly (around 420,000 IDR or 31.50 USD) for a book this 'thin'; however, it was absolutely well worth it. I would definitely recommend anyone who wants to dig deeper into the dinosaur-bird notion to grab this book as soon as possible. (Please be aware that there is a lot of paleontological and dinosaurian terminology in this book. Although it contains a glossary that can help you with it, I still think you should already be familiar with the jargon and it might not be suitable for newbies.)

First of all, I would really like to commend the author, John Pickrell, for his eloquence and magnificence in writing the book. Personally I fell head over heels in love with his writing style! Your attention will be completely drawn to this book and you will feel the indescribable beauty of it as John tells the dino-bird tale. The award-winning journalist and the editor of Australian Geographic magazine is a master at engaging readers in his Pickrellish world. I can assure you that Flying Dinosaurs: How Fearsome Reptiles Became Birds is a real page-turner, thanks to the brilliant author. (actually John has recently published another book titled Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew, which I, without a doubt, will buy once I have the money) Regarding the content, Feathered Dinosaurs presents a huge body of information and covers many areas, including the coloration of dinosaur feathers and Jack Horner's 'chickenosaurus' project. Another point that I like about this book is that it incorporates commentaries from many experts such as Canadian paleontologist Phil Currie and Chinese paleontologist Xu Xing. Although not many, there are a number of illustrations concentrated in the middle of this book which you can feast your eyes on. Finally, there is a mini-dictionary at the back which boasts rich information about species of feathered dinosaurs including how to pronounce their (genus) names!

However, like dinosaurs themselves, dinosaurology is constantly evolving as more and more discoveries are being made all over the world, and Flying Dinosaurs, which was published about 3.5 years ago, certainly needs updating. What are your thoughts on this book? Write your comment below!
Continue reading..

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native – Book Review

Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native
by Boyé Lafayette De Mente

This book comes in two versions: one written in English only and one with Japanese accompanying English. I got the English-only one a few years ago (I don't recall where I bought it) and read some of it. However. the terrible fire incident happening two years ago seems to have destroyed the book. Last year, I came across the Japanese edition at a book fair by Periplus at Plaza fx, Senayan, South Jakarta, and decided to get a copy of it – it was damn cheap! In the last few weeks, I have tried to read the whole book and I completed it of late.

Native speakers don't speak English using literal and direct expressions only. They also use a lot of idiomatic ones and other expressions that might baffle those who are not familiar with them. For instance, one might say "I passed the exam with flying colors", instead of "I passed the exam with a very high/good score." Knowing these expressions is essential and would enable you to communicate more smoothly as well as more naturally. Cheater's Guide to Speaking English Like a Native by Boyé Lafayette De Mente is a book that addresses this matter in an excellent way, and I find this book really lives up to what the title claims the book is.

Firstly, you need to keep in mind that, as the title indicates, this book is intended for improving your spoken English. Therefore, you might find some of the expressions not appropriate if used in writing. This book contains over 700 entries which are in alphabetical order. Personally, I'd say the number is relatively small and thus, it probably doesn't function well as a dictionary (you could read other books such as McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary instead in this regard). I would suggest reading this book like a novel – from beginning to end – to take full advantage of it. The explanations are overall clear; however, most of them are written in high-level English and not direct. Consequently, low-level learners of English may struggle in understanding the expressions. It is also worth mentioning that many of the explanations include history of the expressions, which might be of some people's interest. Each expression is also accompanied by 3 examples which help provide context for when to use it properly and help readers on how to use it correctly as far as structure is concerned. As well as that, there are a few illustrations (not many) throughout the book that somewhat do this job as well. Lastly, as the price is reasonable (around 11 USD), you won't have to pay through your nose for it.

This book has been really helpful for me and is a great addition to my English book collection. How about you? Write your comment about this book below!

Continue reading..