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Content by Helen Watson
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Reviews Written by
Helen Watson "DairyMilkQueen" (London, UK)

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Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination
Mountains of the Mind: a History of a Fascination
by Robert Macfarlane
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb: thoughtful, poetic and personal. Read it!, 9 Mar. 2010
I loved this book.

I love mountains (which helped) but even so, this really is a tour de force. Robert Macfarlane has a beautiful and light written style. He mixes his own experiences on the mountain with a strong historical explanation of why he - and so many others - became obsessed with mountains. This is the book you wish you could have come up with yourself as you stare at Alpine peaks in awe. It's not just about the hill, but about what's in our heads. And that is what I loved about the book.

And if you haven't already, read Wild Places. You'll love that too.

Ghost Train Through the Andes
Ghost Train Through the Andes
by Michael Jacobs
Edition: Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Captures the spirit of Chile and Bolivia, 9 Mar. 2010
Michael Jacobs can tell a good story. I forgot about my fellow tube commuters and found myself transported to the grand vistas of the railways of the Atacama and the Altiplano. What more could you want in the morning?

The author's "quest" to discover his grandfather's experiences in South America and search out a lost British presence in the inhospitable wastes of the Andean highlands made a pretty good rationale for his travels. But the focus on the author's grandfather left me wanting a little more - Mr Jacobs senior seemed a bit straightforward. No 1920s extra-marital affairs, long lost Bolivian relatives or real political intrigue? Not quite enough mystery and a rather weak epilogue ("so what happened next?", "not much") left me slightly cold right at the end which meant four stars, not five. Shame as the rest was brilliant.

Hillwalking in Snowdonia: Glyders, Carneddau and Outlying Areas (Cicerone British Mountains)
Hillwalking in Snowdonia: Glyders, Carneddau and Outlying Areas (Cicerone British Mountains)
by Steve Ashton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.95

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Plenty of good walks - but no scramble ratings, 9 Mar. 2010
A good summary of hill walks in Snowdonia with plenty of classic days out.

But please do take a bit of care - the author's descriptions are rather sparse and you really will need a full OS sheet, rather than the book's small excerpts. And if you're not keen on scrambling then this book isn't for you. The author doesn't grade his scrambles...fine if you know where you're going and what you're getting yourself into, but not so great if you don't know the area already.

The Mermaid and the Drunks
The Mermaid and the Drunks
by Ben Richards
Edition: Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Worth it if you've been to Chile - otherwise bland, 9 Mar. 2010
Why did Mr Richards write this book?

Was it a holiday to Chile that did it? Must have been quite a long one to pick up the snippets of Chilean Spanish ("cachai?") and such accurate geographical detail on Santiago and its surrounding suburbs. So it's great if you've been there as you can revisit old haunts vicariously and sample bits of local colour you'd forgotten about. But if you haven't been I don't think this book would inspire you to go, which is a shame. Why? Well, Chile's landscape and its post-dictatorship confusion is well portrayed. And he does a good job at the current of menace which still lays lightly under Chilean society. But the characters are dull. They felt real enough, like a selection of people you might meet on holiday, but they had no literary presence. I didn't care about them.

The author tries too hard to mix political thriller (lack of real thrills) with an exotic setting. Maybe he got back to London, couldn't leave Chile behind and just fancied writing a book about it. And then had to come up with a plot.

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