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Own Our Oil
Own Our Oil
by Eddie Hobbs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mainly well written but needs more direction (and a bit of ironing), 26 May 2014
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This review is from: Own Our Oil (Paperback)
I was expecting this book to be the uneducated media style slandering of the petroleum industry in Ireland but gladly I have to say I was wrong. This book is a well written series of essays by a number of people who are clearly rather knowledgeable about the industry and of our current paltry standing in the world of fiscal regimes.

I was indeed quite surprised and happy to see this book had a lot of technical information on environment, law and the whole economic and political scenario. Indeed I was pretty amazed that the intricacies of gamma ray tools were even covered in what is one of the better quick geological introductions to oil and gas I have read. The book even has a nice bit of historical introductions including information on Bantry terminal etc.

Of criticisms I have a few:
1. The physical book itself is poor quality given the price. It seems like everyone sent a MS Word essay to the publisher and they just lumped them together. Some of the graphs are illegible, the typography of the blurb is terrible and just feels all round amateurish.
2. There are some errors. Being picky, one of the the letters from the young students states "Norway is the biggest oil and gas producer outside of the Middle East". This is far from true. I understand this is school kid but this misinformation is how things like Corrib happen.
3. The information on the companies hiding found oil seems a bit conspiracy theory to me.
4. We have a chapter on the adventures of a man gallivanting around Norway (albeit a welcome break from the technical stuff) yet there is absolutely nothing on the specific geological and engineering challenges and risks offshore of Ireland. Nothing about layers of basalt making seismic a pain in the rear, nothing about low recovery factors, not even a map of the prospects and explanation of the basins.
5. This lack of technical information makes me wonder if there has been too much looking at the finances and not enough at the geology and engineering (only one of the authors is geologist, none are engineers). Therefore I think the 80% recommended tax rate is way way way too high. 62% has halted some recent projects in the UK (Chevron Rosebank). 50% would be more appropriate or better yet I am all for the creation of state company (though the book makes it seem like Statoil had rosy beginnings which it most certainly did not - think Irish Water and multiply it by 10).

If the book makes it to a second edition, I hope these issues may be ironed out. For a good honest effort, it just squeezes 4 stars.


Sun Rise: Suncor, the Oil Sands and the Future of Energy
Sun Rise: Suncor, the Oil Sands and the Future of Energy
by Richard George
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Reasonable introduction to oil sands, 8 Feb. 2014
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The book is written in more of a memoir style fashion as opposed to straight up history. However the author, Rick George as former CEO, certainly had a central part to play in rise of oil sands production. Despite this success he comes across as a very modest, knowledgeable and even somewhat inspirational person at times.

The books covers a number of topics such as environmental, historical and economical. Though like many of these books it is very light on the technical details of extraction and processing.

Reviewers elsewhere have commented that the book is more research orientated but I would disagree entirely. There are a few basic graphs indicative of the recent success of Suncor. In any case there are only two people who are going to buy this book. First those with an interest in the oil and gas industry and secondly those who look to tar the oil sand extraction process.

George does plenty to entertain and further educate the former while the latter will have to look elsewhere for a polemic.


The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Energy Revolution
The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Energy Revolution
by Gregory Zuckerman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.94

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A new Prize for a new era, 2 Feb. 2014
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To withdraw my heading slightly, this book is not nor could it ever be as good as The Prize given a more limited timeframe. However the author does a fine job in whipping the reader along into the ins and outs of the hydraulic fracturing business in the US.

Certainly others are correct that the technicalities of fracking are mainly overlooked. Adding a further criticism, some chapters are rather fragmented in the storytelling and indeed some of those stories seem like unnecessary additions to the book.

However the book is incredibly fascinating and well researched. The afterword itself is a very useful and appropriate ending. Ergo if you liked the Prize, buy it. If you want to go out campaigning for world peace and wind turbines perhaps it is not what you are looking for.


Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life
by John B. Arden
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.38

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid book but needs some re-wiring itself, 19 Jan. 2014
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Oh the irony. A PhD and a lifelong of research into the workings of the brain and yet the author (or perhaps the publisher) has made one abysmal error in the publication of this book. There are no diagrams/graphs/pictures which would aid one enormously in understanding the various parts of the brain and the related electrochemical components for which I purchased this book.

Ergo one is left with a book full of forgettable abbreviations and the usual extreme sob stories, where despite any mention of silver bullets the patients often make miraculous turnarounds.

Furthermore for a man who is clearly quite intelligent, he is amongst the majority of the medical profession who are miles behind when it comes to dietary advice. He advises a patient to cut back on all sugar and then recommends a glass of OJ as an alternative. While in a nutritional sense the fructose, glucose, K and Mg in OJ, combined with other electrochemical constituents such as NaCl and Ca, are very useful metabolically he is fundamentally wrong in that is contains plenty of sugar, albeit natural.

Furthermore he trudges that weary tale of eating foods high in tryptophan before bed to convert to serotonin, then says to avoid protein? Almost every food high in tryptophan is high in protein (it is an amino acid after all).

Still he does seem to have most things right and it cements the fundamentals of success (importance of sleep, diet, mental and physical exercise) but anyone looking to elevate their brain to a high level - and not out of the trash can - can pass this one over.


Offshore Oil Drilling (Hot Topics)
Offshore Oil Drilling (Hot Topics)
by Nick Hunter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is for children, 9 Jan. 2014
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I don't really see the point of the book.
It is laid out like a childrens book with very basic information yet the subject matter is Offshore Drilling? I can't quite remember when Dr. Zeuss was abandoned and kids became interested in Offshore Drilling.

Not worth a penny.


The Sports Gene: Talent, Practice and the Truth About Success
The Sports Gene: Talent, Practice and the Truth About Success
by David Epstein
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immeasurably enjoyable. Fantastically informative., 9 Jan. 2014
Other reviewers have delved deep into the innards of the book and thus I have no intention of repeating their words but will add to the impending explosion of 5 star reviews.

To pay this a very high compliment indeed, I can only compare it to Outliers by Gladwell in terms of its enjoyment level and writing style. Perhaps even more enjoyable in that the subject matter is sport!

We are taken on a whirlwind trip across the globe and through some details on what makes athletes great by virtue of nature and - fortunately for those of use less well endowed - by nurture, all via some specifically named and scientifically verified genetics.

Perhaps my only gripe is that the scientific details are very slim besides the naming of the genes themselves and thus while gene expression is discussed, epigenetics is not covered in any depth.

However saying that, this is amongst the most enjoyable books I have read and is sure to interest professors, athletes and couch sport fans alike.


Guerrilla Warfare
Guerrilla Warfare
by Ernesto Che Guevara
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.21

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Yes this is a manual. And Che was great. But it's not useful in either of those contexts., 21 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Guerrilla Warfare (Paperback)
I suspect this book was born out of the need to educate the clueless campesinos, in the Sierra Maestra and beyond, when a quick introduction to guerrilla warfare was required. Thus it is a manual, albeit a short one.
So if you soon intend to pack your bags with revolutionary intentions, you may want to consider finding something with a little more depth, lest you find yourself out of yours.

Indeed the devoted disciples will cry "Nay!". Yes this book has most certainly later been refined to reflect his own experiences and does ameliorate ones knowledge of his life, but only in minute fashion. However if you are interested in Che, you are only a few clicks away from the impeccable "Che: A Revolutionary Life" whence you may pack that "iconic" t-shirt away, as the man himself would most certainly not approve.

Guerrilla Warfare is a short and arguably worthwhile read, but life is equally terse and there are better books to be bothered with.


Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations
Philosophy for Life: And other dangerous situations
by Jules Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.19

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Full circle trip around philosophical thinking. Aaaaand we are back at capitalism., 18 Dec. 2013
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The author leads the reader on an exciting trip through the history of philosophy, from its classical origins through historical misinterpretations to where we are at now.

And from this interesting story, the book concludes that actually taking action on philosophical thinking leads to the creation of cults. These ultimately fail and lead to the breakout of capitalism. So we are back where we started and ergo it seems we should not bother reading the abundance of texts from which this book was written but just get on with life as it is.

The historical portions of the book are quite informative and enjoyable. Yet I struggle to fathom why if this author loves philosophy so, does he choose to pick the most gullible cheesy cults on which to display the current philosophical lines of thinking? Certainly the author is dismissive of their practices and rightly so. However the title of the book would suggest that this book is an aid to incorporate philosophical thinking in ones daily life yet he displays those who practice these thoughts as oddballs.

He might as well have written a book praising Marxism-Leninism and only showcased the genocides of Mao and the gulags of Stalin.
I don't get it.


Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril (Rti Press Book)
Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril (Rti Press Book)
by Vikram Rao Ph.D.
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Good information for those on both sides of the fence - and those on it, 8 Dec. 2013
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This book is excellent in that it certainly points out dangers of hydraulic fracturing in shale gas whilst correctly addressing and mitigating with the primary fears which plague the mainstream perception of fracking.

The book addresses not only the immediate concerns of water pollution, excessive nuclear elements etc but also accounts for the overall economic and transport difficulties of shale gas.

There were some areas which I wish the book had such as a section describing the fracking process a bit more in depth and the size and length of fractures produced.

Also the economic situation of shale gas is developing quickly into one of calamity in the US, and that perhaps may need to be addressed in due course in the next revision of this book.


The Mango Orchard: Travelling Back to the Secret Heart of Mexico
The Mango Orchard: Travelling Back to the Secret Heart of Mexico
by Robin Bayley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Story - Poorly Written, 14 Aug. 2013
The numerous 5 stars here are, unfortunately, completely unwarranted. Robin Bayley has written a book that does little, if anything, the enhance the readers perception of Mexico and its people. I wonder if the other reviewers here, and indeed the author, had read books by more notorious and accomplished writers - such as Theroux, Dervla Murphy, Laurie Lee etc, there would be a greater grasp of what it means to read and write a travel book. The author falls down on many fronts, firstly in that the book represents little more than a chronological diary of his monotonous comings and goings. The story is a self-centred trip where it seems that author is interested primarily in the destination and not the journey. There are little, if any, historic details of the towns, places and people of Mexico and Central America with no self ameliorating knowledge to be attained from this book. The story reads more like a work of fiction such are the constant coincidences that I find difficult to believe.

Like all good - and abysmal - works of fiction, the story has a love interest running through its core. Unfortunately it's the lead core of a pencil, with the authors forerunning member leading his unrelenting pursuit of a semi-crippled native beauty - who clearly is not interested - which reminds me of the worst kind of city nightclub creep - a personality to which I am not endeared. His personal standing equally plummets when he complains of the nasty bed bugs in a hotel as he is more used to 5 star city hotels. Ultimately if you looking for a mind numbing cheap bargain bucket book to destroy a few brain cells, look no further. If however, like me, you wish to learn something about Mexico in an entertaining manner, avoid.


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