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T J Laurence (Brighton, United Kingdom)

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100 Points to Consider Before Moving or Retiring in Ecuador
100 Points to Consider Before Moving or Retiring in Ecuador
Price: £3.30

4.0 out of 5 stars Dreams may be just dreams, 1 Jan. 2016
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Mainly for the US or Canadian reader who has probably not lived or spent much time in lesser developed countries. The author has spent a long time in the country and is married to a local, so he is talking from the inside. A sub-title could have been on the lines of: 'You've read the Guidebooks, now read this'. It will shatter certain ideals before having to find out the hard way. The kind of ones that get shattered usually after the honeymoon period - such as for every charming local there's a blood-sucking government official or lawyer charmingly separating you from your funds. I did enjoy it, however, and it's certainly not all negative. Having now spent a couple of months in the country, much of what he says has been corroborated by talks I've had. There are house invasions and endemic theft of a more petty nature.

However, what he has written about Ecuador is probably true of many countries. If you're used to an English/American/Canadian or Australian rule of law (in simple terms: you're accountable for your crimes/ corruption etc because someone will find out and prosecute) then it might come as a shock. But being quite long in the tooth, I have heard of this kind of thing happening in many countries - even Fifa-friendly Switzerland.

Come for the wonderful biodiversity, the excellent climate or range of climates, the cheap living (though most 'luxury' items are heavily taxed) but don't arrive naive about everyone falling over themselves in gratitude that another gringo (that's all of us pale northerners; they don't make a distinction). Crowder does a great job of removing that naivety.

Spanish Slang Ecuador
Spanish Slang Ecuador
Price: £2.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Above all else, very funny, 1 Jan. 2016
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Hilarious - I downloaded it at Heathrow and already on the flight was amusing my fellow passengers with it. Then I used it with Spanish teachers in Quito and Cuenca, to similarly amused results.

The author has really put his time in here, so much so that he has included slang from many areas. Great way to melt the ice and pretend, as in my case, that you know more Spanish than you actually do.

Gramatica Moderna del Espanol (Spanish Edition)
Gramatica Moderna del Espanol (Spanish Edition)
Price: £5.07

2.0 out of 5 stars Needs a workable index, 1 Jan. 2016
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Did I miss something? There's doesn't seem to be a way of going to a section of the book from the table of contents. Without that, not much use as no grammar book can be read from back to front without falling seriously asleep.
On the other hand it does seem to be free.

Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It
Price: £9.23

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great approach for the faint-hearted, 1 Jan. 2016
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I wish this book had been put out many years ago, when I first started with languages - it is a wonderful shortcut to all that I had to learn painstakingly. So if you are starting out or want more motivation, grab it now. The author goes through all the aspects of learning a language - speaking, listening, reading and writing - and in each chapter you'll find yourself keeps encouraging you to keep at it. What I particularly appreciate is his emphasis on the sound systems i.e. learn to copy how the natives speak and you'll get a really good head start.

I wonder why so few learners do this when the reward is being so much more accepted by people speaking your target language? Maybe it's the fear of being laughed at. The author gives many examples to illustrate how he learned and keeps learning (he's an opera singer, among other things) and I felt personally drawn in by his story.

Got a bit lost on the system of flash cards, but each to their own.

Price wise, I notice another similar book is much cheaper. I did not regret paying for this book as it has helped me refine what is more, and what is less useful in my own methods.

The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea
The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea
by Philip Hoare
Edition: Hardcover

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leviathan by any other name, 15 Nov. 2012
This is an outstanding book for those who wish to know more about whales, or have already been fascinated. BUT, it already exists in a British edition, called Leviathan, and has done for three years. If you want a hardback copy at a very reasonable price, then go ahead and buy this US edition. Meanwhile for reviews on the book go to


I saw the author speak recently and he spoke as eloquently as he writes. Buy his book so he can keep watching and educating people about whales. Because they're worth it

Aegean Dream
Aegean Dream
Price: £2.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The other side of the dream, 20 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Aegean Dream (Kindle Edition)
Aegean Nightmare might have been the title of this book, as the author describes a slow and painful descent from the fantasy of sun-kissed, friendly-native, retsina-quaffing paradise to a living hell of ghastly petty officials demanding more payment and endless forms. A worthwhile read to counterbalance the avalanche of post Year in Provence offerings where the horrors of modern city life in the North are exchanged for southern sun. The writer and his wife do all they can to learn the language and love the Greek way of life, but in the end are worn down by the endless game that is played with them.

Brazilian Portuguese-English Dictionary & Phrasebook (Hippocrene Dictionary & Phrasebooks)
Brazilian Portuguese-English Dictionary & Phrasebook (Hippocrene Dictionary & Phrasebooks)
Price: £10.54

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not great for Kindle, 16 Feb. 2011
I bought this thinking, great, I'll be able to look things up really quickly. I was shocked to find that there was no index within the book itself, and had to use the 'Menu - Search within this book' option instead. Also, it doesn't really deserve the word Dictionary in its title, as the number of words is very small. I would say avoid this unless you really do only need an extremely fundamental book. But then why pay this much for that?

Brazil: Life, Blood, Soul
Brazil: Life, Blood, Soul
by John Malathronas
Edition: Paperback

29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Catching the Pulse of Brazil, 3 Feb. 2004
I've been lucky: I've had to go to Brazil three times. Each time before I left, I searched for information, scouring the bookshops, including Stanford's Travel, for anything on Brazil beyond the usual guides. I found hardly anything. Funny, that, for one of the world's largest countries with 170 million people; there were many more books on thin little Cuba.
If only I had had this one - it more than makes up for the big gap in the market. The author delights us by learning the language and so introducing us to all kinds of characters from mega-rich to dirt poor. He immerses himself in the history and the culture, and his commentary comes with a dry sense of humour that reveals his British upbringing. He throws himself into the dance scene and justifies it - if you want to understand Brazil and its people, get out and dance with them all night.
If you haven't been to Brazil, or are interested but cannot go, then do read this book. It's a complex country with many faces, and Malathronas (born in Greece with a gift for languages, so he can pass for a Brazilian at some points in the narrative) has a very interesting perspective. Openly gay, he sympathises with what it is to be misunderstood by the majority of people who see and hear only the clichés. In Brazil, that means of course the bikini-clad beauty on Copacabana, football stars and Carnaval. He takes us far deeper and manages to convey what the sub-title promises: Brazil's life, blood and soul come pulsing through.

What Should I Do With My Life?
What Should I Do With My Life?
by Po Bronson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This wil get you thinking, 24 Jan. 2004
This very readable book does not answer the question for us, which would of course be nice and save us years of self-questioning. Why not? I suppose because Bronson values our intelligence too much and the simple fact that we have to find this one out for ourselves.
Po Bronson's book is structured as a series of vignettes, telling the stories of around 50 people and how they deal with a question we've all probably asked ourselves. It's readable because it goes from one set of adventures and challenges to another - and they happen to be true. One of the satisfying elements is how many answers - not to mention false starts and wrong turnings - there are. Even so, he consciously limited it to professionals from his age-group, the Gen-Xers, and baby boomers. 900 interviews have been boiled down to these ones, so expect a very entertaining cast of characters including a model who gave up the glamour, and a trust-fund kid who became a gang-busting LA cop.
From a very confident writer (you might be be too if a previous novel had been made into a Hollywood film!) with a wide experience in journalism (a regular column in Wired), Bronson knows how to pose questions and then sit back, recording the answers.
The author himself appears in various guises - as listener, friend, confidant, character taking part in some of the stories, and reveals in passages how his path has unfolded, from unhappy bond trader to full-time writer. It feels like he really lived the question himself and so is able to get under the skin of many of his subjects. He himself admits that his attitude to life changed quite a bit during the interviews, some of which spanned days.
He is conscious of an international audience, and adapted his introduction for the UK edition. A few Brits turn up in the pages, since he came over here three times searching for material, as well as some of those who went to Hong Kong searching for an alternative.
It's a good read. I found it inspired me both first thing in the morning and when I let it sink in just before going to sleep.

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