Posts Tagged ‘recommendations’

New ABC Evergreens!

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Many of you might be familiar with our ABC Evergreens. Five years ago, back when we were but a mere 35 years old, we chose 35 titles whose message and sales had showed no sign of stopping in all our years in business, lowered their prices, gave them all an Evergreen sticker, and – presto! – our selection of store classics was born.

Since then, we’ve kept adding titles as we rediscovered old classics or stunning new books bowled us over.   This year, we would like to introduce these new, and we think worthy, additions:


The Melancholy Death of Oysterboy – Tim Burton

Women – Charles Bukowski

Mistborn – Brandon Sanderson

Old Man’s War – John Scalzi

Necronomicon – H. P. Lovecraft

Lord of the Flies – William Golding

Matterhorn – Karl Marlantes

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

The Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway

V for Vendetta – Alan Moore


Speeches That Changed the World

Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman

The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success – Deepak Chopra

Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book – Ellen Lupton

Long Walk to Freedom – Nelson Mandela

I Love Your Style: How to Define and Refine Your Personal Style – Amanda Brooks

Just Kids – Patti Smith

Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945 – Tony Judt

The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World – Lewis Hyde

Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi

If you would like to see our complete selection of ABC Evergreens, just click here.

You Review: Tubes: Behind the Scenes at the Internet by Andrew Blum

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Reviewed by Jaya Rai

Remember the excitement you felt while reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, as if you had laid your hands on the most intriguing document in history? The introduction to Tubes promises to lead you to the holy grail of the physical infrastructure of the Internet.

What is the actual Internet? Like most technology which makes our lives easier, the functioning and mechanics of it lays hidden and undiscovered to most people.  The Internet is another mystery so common yet so rare. Every time most of us log on, we hardly give a thought on how we are able to do all those wonderful things that the Internet enables us to do. Andrew Blum seeks to redress this.

On a rather routine day, he finds himself unable to access the Internet. The whole task of figuring out what has gone wrong charms him into looking deep into the invisible infrastructure of the Internet. He delves into this uncharted territory, weaving in and out of  the past and  present. Blum introduces us to a host of people who gave shape to the Internet, in addition to the the few names that are popularly known.

From a layman’s point of view, most of Blum’s writing is simple enough to allow the reader to grasp the intricate and abstract technical concepts. But be warned, at certain junctions, unless you are a geek or smart at grasping complex descriptions, reareading is required in order to make sense of what is being explained. On the other hand, at places the text is so diluted that one tends to lose interest. The book would have benefited from tighter editing.

I recommend this book to anyone who is fascinated by the ubiquity of the Internet and curious about its beginnings and its underbelly. After reading this book they are sure to be wiser than the rest.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

Staff Review: Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

In July 2011 Hugh Howey released a short post-apocalyptic SF-story called Wool as a download on Amazon. It was well reviewed and sold well, so he wrote a few sequels, which also became quite popular. Now the first 5 stories are available in print as The Wool Omnibus, and here’s the thing: it’s completely self-published. Most self-published books are unreadable hokum, or vanity projects only interesting to the author and (maybe) his friends and family or simply the ravings of a mad person, but Wool – even though it hasn’t been professionally edited or approved or groomed by a publisher – is pretty good. There’s a lot of room for improvement, but by and large it’s better than a lot of other stuff on the shelves of our bookstore.

It’s hard to go into the story without giving too much away, but here’s the gist of it: there’s a community of people living inside a huge 150-floor underground silo, which they can’t leave because the air outside is toxic. Anyone who does express a desire to go outside gets his or her wish: they are sentenced to spend the last few minutes of their lives – before their hazard suit succumbs to the toxins in the air and dissolves – cleaning the outside sensors of the silo, so the people inside get a clear picture on their monitors again.

The premise of the original short story is of course that someone has to go outside and do a little cleaning. Will he survive? I ain’t telling. The first story is fun, a bit high on drama but I guess that if you only have a couple of thousand words to get a reader engrossed in your narrative, you have to lay it on pretty thick.

The problem is that in stories 2-5 – all direct sequels to each other – he slows down the pace but doesn’t let up the drama. Every important character seems to have lost someone in the past, or is about to lose someone, and I got the impression that this is the only way Howey thinks it’s possible to get the reader to invest in the characters. He certainly doesn’t give them many other characteristics.

But even though the characters lack depth, the world Howey creates is very interesting. After the first story he takes his time to explore the rest of the silo, and of course everything is not completely as it seems. He creates a very convincing living, breathing underground community, and the slow descent the protagonists of the second short story make to the very last floor really feels like an exploration of strange new lands, which in a way it also is to them. When the only way to go up or down is climbing long, winding stairs, people tend to stick to their own floors.

About three quarters through the omnibus Howey runs out of world to explore, and the shallow characters are barely enough to keep to keep the reader interested from that point on, but his concise writing still doesn’t make it a chore to finish the book.

Howey is still expanding the Wool-series, but I have a feeling after part 5 it’s pretty much played out and am more interested in several of his other projects, which I hope will also be available in print in the future. Still, I heartily recommend the Wool Omnibus, it’s one of the few books of which I finished the first half in one sitting. It’s an especially good read for fans of the Fallout-games and other post-apocalyptica.

Reviewed by JeroenW

You Review: The Blue Door by Lise Kristensen

Friday, April 6th, 2012

Reviewed by Eefje Koppers

Children are resilient. It never ceases to amaze me how their innocence and imagination allows them to experience the worst of circumstances and still find some adventure or even beauty in it. Or how they can become wise beyond their years and assume responsibilities that most adults couldn’t take on. The Blue Door is the story of such a child. Ten-year-old Lise Kristensen has lived a sheltered life in Indonesia with her Norwegian parents, younger sister and baby brother. There is talk of war in Europe and an encroaching threat of the Japanese army, but these stories have little impact on Lise’s life. Until her friends start disappearing.

All of a sudden war is thrust upon them when first Lise’s father is taken away and then the rest of the family are sent to Japanese prison camps. Here, they face hunger, vermin, illness, appalling living conditions, inhumane treatment by the Japanese guards and heartbreaking betrayal by fellow prisoners. Their only respite is a vivid blue door raised on concrete posts on which they can sit during the day to escape the rats and find shelter from the oppressive heat. Lise’s moving memoir tells of her two-year struggle to not just stay alive herself, but also keep her family alive. With her father gone and her mother ill and weak, Lise must take on the role of head of the family. She does this with creativity, cunning and innocence as only a child can do. The Blue Door is a beautifully and sensitively written book about some of the darkest days in human history. It is a tale of survival against the odds and it is a story that deserves to be read. So do! Because we should never forget.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

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You Review: Scorpion Betrayal by Andrew Kaplan

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Reviewed by Jonathan de Souza

Scorpion Betrayal is not a happy book, or a funny one for that matter. It is, however, action packed and extremely thrilling. Andrew Kaplan’s story of Scorpion, the ultimate CIA agent who is recruited to stop a mass terror plot that spans the globe, moves very fast. The narrative is well-written and switches from Scorpion’s point of view to that of  the man he is hunting. Kaplan incorporates numerous international cities into the story and describes them in great detail.

That of course does not mean that this is the perfect book; the characters are somewhat repetitive, Muslim men for example are essentially described as being all alike, and the bad guy leaves so much chaos in his wake it’s hard to believe he keeps slipping away. There is a lot of secret agent jargon in the novel and though at the end of the book there is a glossary of what most of it means, it quickly becomes tiresome to keep checking back what this acronym stood for and where this person came from and so on. A far better method in my opinion would be to add footnotes to the pages pertaining to certain points.

The ending however, makes up for most of the story’s inconsistencies. I won’t give it away of course, but suffice it to say that it comes as a surprise and a very enjoyable one at that. Though it took me a few pages to get into Scorpion Betrayal, I’m glad I stuck with it, because it then quickly became one of those novels you simply cannot put down.

You Review: The latest releases, reviewed by ABC customers.

If you’d like to join in and get free books and ABC gift vouchers, see the original post for more details.