Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Time Zones, Containers and Three Square Meals a Day / Maria Staal

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Travel/Non-Fiction

Approximate word count: 75-80,000 words

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“Maria Staal was born in the Netherlands (1969). She studied construction engineering and specialized in architectural history. While living in York, United Kingdom, she wrote her first book, Romans, Vikings, Churches and Chocolate, in which she highlights the fact that even in the modern streetscape, York's ancient history is still visible. Her second book, From dissenters to fire engines, was also written in York and focuses on the city's nineteenth century churches.

Back in the Netherlands, Maria wrote about her adventures working on container ships in her book 'Time Zones, Containers and Three Square Meals a Day' and its sequel 'More Stories of Time Zones and Containers.”


“Deadly pirate attacks and a near collision with an oil tanker are just two of the dangers faced by the crews of today's container ships. Time Zones, Containers and Three Square Meals a Day is the story of life on the high seas, where real adventures still exist. The author recounts her adventures on the container ship Serenity River in this entertaining narrative travelogue.”


Strange as it may seem if you’ve never heard of it, many container ship companies (think of those big boxes you’ll sometimes see on top of a flat railroad car) also have room for a limited number of passengers. Among other things, traveling this way is a non-airplane alternative when, due to seasonal or route considerations, a conventional cruise ship or other form of transportation wouldn’t be an option. Hired to write a guidebook for passengers of a set of ships that traveled the same route, the author took the trip as research, writing as she went. This book is about what that experience was like.

I enjoy travel narratives of all kinds. This was one of the more unique I’ve read, mainly because the method of travel was so unconventional. The ports of call were often not the normal tourist haunts. Everything about Staal’s experience was much different than the typical travel narrative. Although the author is a native of the Netherlands, she has lived for an extended period in the UK. I never felt that language was an issue; however, I did mark down by one star for exceeding my somewhat strict threshold for typos and grammar errors.


Uses UK spelling conventions.

Format/Typo Issues:

A large number of copy editing and proofing issues. The most frequent was a homonym error, confusing the usage of the words “past” and “passed” some, but not all, of the time.

Rating: *** Three stars

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