Book 24-27: The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake by Roger Hermiston

Book #  23-26                                   Words:   Approx. 210000                                             Date: Jan. 2015


Title:   The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake                                                               Author:  Roger Hermiston                                


Genre ~ Non-Fiction                        Type:  Biography      



  • Opening Sentence:

George Blake was born George Behar, in Rotterdam, in the Netherlands.


  • Favourite word / phrase / sentence:

-To his children he seemed a remote, otherworldly figure.



  • Vocabulary and new terms (with part of speech) and definition:

-Vivacious [adj.]: attractively lively and animated. (Usually for women)



  • Reflection, Connection & Personal Response:

Even though this book was a nonfiction, biography, I felt that it was sometimes even stranger than fiction books, due to the characters involved and the real world situations. This author was able to seamlessly combine his own research with other writing that was done on this topic to create a well balanced and flowing story for such a fascinating character. Even though the reader may feel he is a bad guy, having read this book, I realized that not everything was black and white like that. For example, throughout his time in Korea and in Holland, he risked his own life to save many others. It was interesting to see the circumstances that turned an ordinary English spy officer turn towards communism, especially with all the anti-communism message coming from the Western community at that time. For example, in Communist North Korea, he was held in POW camps where he was harshly and brutally treated, and surprisingly became a communist himself after those events.

Book 22-23: Putin and The Rise of Russia by Michael Stuermer

Book # 22-23                                    Words: Approx. 130500                                               Date: Feb 2015


Title:   Putin and The Rise of Russia                                                               Author:  Michael Stuermer                                 


Genre ~ Non-Fiction            Type: Biography       



  • Opening Sentence:

When, on a recent visit to Russia, I was hurrying through Moscow’s Kazan railway station, my eye caught sight of a tiny gold coin.


  • Favourite word / phrase / sentence:

Putin did not at first find it necessary to interrupt his holiday in the Black Sea.



  • Vocabulary and new terms (with part of speech) and definition:

Hitherto [adv.]: until now or until the point in time under discussion.

Tenuous [adj.]: very weak and slight.

Pernicious [adj.]: having a harmful effect, especially gradually.

Leitmotif [n.]: a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, usually about a situation or a person.

Anathema [n.]: something or someone one vehemently dislikes.

  • Reflection, Connection & Personal Response:

I have been researching Putin for awhile as I feel that he is a very interesting character and rise to power. Thus, I have read many books upon this subject and this book has been one of the least biased texts. For example, since I could only read English fluently, I only have access to mostly American or British texts. Obviously, the authors with those backgrounds would have a certain degree of bias due to their schema, as well other places as well. However, with this book, which was written by a German professor, did not have a polarized view to the topic and was able to explain with more breadth, even though theoretically he should be anti-Russia as well. I began reading this book because I needed ideas for my Social Studies project. It certainly has been a very insightful and valuable resource to my presentation as I was able to cover all aspects of his style of leadership. One flaw that I found within the book is that I felt that the book focused more on the foreign politics dynamics of Russia than being a biography.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

Book #  21                                   Words:     89727                                           Date: Jan 2015

Title:    A Dog’s Purpose                                                              Author:       W. Bruce Cameron

Genre ~ Fiction


  • Opening Sentence:

One day it occurred to me that the warm, squaky, smelly things squirming around next to me were my brothers and sister.

 Favourite word / phrase / sentence:

Often Mother would spend extra time licking Hungry while I seethed at the injustice.

Vocabulary and new terms (with part of speech) and definition:

Grace [n.]: Courteous good will

Culvert [n.]: A tunnel carrying a stream under a roadway or railroads.

Reflection, Connection & Personal Response

This book was recommended to me by a classmate at school and she has my heartfelt thanks for introducing me to this story. It has taught me a valuable lesson.

This book is by far one of the most meaningful books I have read in my life. It really teaches the read the core values of love, loyalty and friendship. The book talks from a very interesting perspective as it is written from a dog’s point of view, hence the name. Because of the innocent nature of a dog, the book really emphasises the value of true honesty and love, rather than deceitful tactics sometimes employed by humans to get what they want. The author amazingly manipulates the words to speak realistically from the dog, something that I doubted when I first started the book. Furthermore, the author beautifully captures our perception as to the dog’s thought process, enhancing the story even more. Overall, I really enjoyed the bittersweet taste of the book and I look forward to reading more books by this author.

Grey Mountain by John Grisham-

Book # 19-20                                    Words:    122011                                            Date: Feb. 2015


Title: Grey Mountain                                                                 Author: John Grisham                                 


Genre ~  Fiction Type: Legal Thriller        



  • Opening Sentence: The horror was in the wating-the unknown, the insomnia, the ulcers.



  • Favourite word / phrase / sentence:

-Two thousand lawyers in twenty countries, half of them in New York City alone, a thousand right up there packed together on floors 30 through 65. How many wanted to jump? 

-The bankers are in their bunkers, afraid to loan a dime.

– “Some of the partners offered to cut their salaries in alf to prevent this.” “I’ll bet that was a small group,” Ben said. “It was, yes.”

  • Vocabulary and new terms (with part of speech) and definition:


Soapbox [n.]: Used as a reference to a situation where a person expresses strong opinion towards a topic.


  • Reflection, Connection & Personal Response:

I have been an avid reader of many John Grisham books, which I have found to be very entertaining. However, with this book, I found it to be very boring and does not have the thrill like its counterparts. Halfway through the book, I found it to be an endless exposition about the horrors of coal mining and how it is impacting the environment. Even though it was somewhat informative, it could not be a substitute for a plot. Towards the end of the book, I found that there were still many unresolved issues and the characters were not as fleshed out as some of Grisham’s previous books. I felt that this book did not really provoke much thought in the reader, as a sizable portion of the book is filled with statistics. Again, unlike some of his previous books, I did not feel really attached to any of the characters. For example, there was an unexpected death of one of the main characters, but honestly, I felt no remorse for that person. Personally, I was disappointed by the abrupt end of the book. All in all, this book was definitely not the normal calibre that Grisham usually writes at.

Book 2-3: A Captain’s Duty (by Richard Phillips)

Book #2-3                        Words: Approx. 109440                   Date: Sep. 2014

Title: A Captain’s Duty                                      Author(s): Richard Philips with Stephan Talty

Genre ~ Non-Fiction                                       Type: Thriller/Suspenseful

  • Opening Sentence: The heat in the lifeboat had become completely unbearable.
  • Favorite word / phrase / sentence:To me, the only one who was going to save us was us.
  • Vocabulary and new terms (with part of speech)and definition:

-Pyrotechnic [adj.]: of or relating to fireworks

Reflection, Connection & Personal Response:

 I felt that this book was a tremendous insight to the overall instability of the region of the Horn of Africa, even though the book only depicted one particular event. However, the reader may infer by seeing the population of the countries in this region taking on such illegitimate and dangerous activities to obtain sustainability shows rampant civilians without the guide of law. Furthermore, it presented the colossal difference between these countries (eg Somalia) compared to developed countries (eg United States). For example, I said above that civilians in Somalia have to perform such activities to have sustainability whereas the United States has the ability to have naval warships far beyond their sovereign territories providing defense to the economic interests of their own. Moreover, it also showed the lack of logic by the pirates mostly attributed to their lack of education in an impoverished country like Somalia. For example, the crew of the Maersk Alabama was able to circumvent various threats issued to them by the pirates and the pirates were unable to realize that. Lastly, I felt that this book really presented the theme of the needs of many prevailing over the needs of one well as it showed how willing Captain Philips was to sacrifice himself and put himself in the line of danger for the safety and wellbeing of his crew.