Magic O’Clock by L.S.Fellows

But what if memory decides one day to walk out of someone’s life? Can new memories be made while befriending forgetfulness?

Advertisements

Title: Magic O’Clock

Author: L.S.Fellows

Publisher: Pronoun

Date of Publication: 7 May 2017

Genre: Short Story/ Novella

Rating: 5/5

magicoclock

“If tears could build a stairway,

And memories a lane,

Then I’d walk right up to Heaven,

And bring you home again.” (Anon)

 

Heart wrenching novella of a family beaten down by the loathsome disease of Dementia.

Reminiscences are what people live by. It is memories that make good and bad stages of life. Though ironically happy memories hurt the most but it is some memories that make life more bearable. In this rugged terrain of existential absurdities that make up human life on this planet, it is memories that provide solace, hope and some bitter sweet lessons. Memories warm people from the inside and life becomes an endless effort of making unforgettable memories. But what if memory decides one day to walk out of someone’s life? Can new memories be made while befriending forgetfulness?

L.S.Fellows rattles both the mind and the heart in this crisp fictional tale of dementia and hope. Acceptance is one of the greatest lessons of life and the earlier it is mastered the easier it becomes to live. The loss of a dear one is difficult to accept. But it gets much harder when one has to live with the thought of being with a loved one who fails to recognise anyone or goes missing one fine day. The story treads this field of unfamiliarity experienced by a child whose retired father can no longer recognise anybody. The status quo is reversed as the parent who’s supposed to be the first guide in a child’s life has become the child in need of some guidance from his own progeny but refuses to receive any. It is this unfamiliarity that is crippling to the author.

The writing style is fluid and ideas roll in easily. The narrative is very descriptive to the extent that the pictures rise out of the page and can be seen like a film on screen. These vivid descriptions add to a good eye for detail. It is reflective of someone who not just writes for leisure but writes often and understands the art of storytelling. The story is told from the first person narrator’s perspective. Throughout the narrative the vocabulary used is simple but stress is made on the mode of expression of everyday ideas. Certain ideas are put forward in a way so as to have expressions hurled at the reader’s face to arouse a shudder or a slight chuckle. The humour adds to the pathos but it is not a hilarious account by any sense. The despair is maintained throughout the narrative along with a sense of respectful devotion that the narrator has towards the old man Archie. The death of a parental figure is hard to accept but their absence in their presence is much harder. The core of the suffering lies in the fact that all one can do after a person’s loss is to console oneself by recalling how well the deceased one had lived and how much they had enjoyed their sustenance.

It is ironic that a man who otherwise cannot recall anything is able to narrate such interesting tales articulately and with all the information intact. It is as if Archie takes up a different persona all together during the storytelling sessions at his old age home. He becomes a regular, normal person for those few hours. The narrator’s comments not only add to the reader’s idea about Archie but also give a sense of grief that is gnawing at the narrator’s heart who can merely sit and watch and do nothing at all. It is the helplessness at the hands of an irreversible situation. The child sits through the story telling sessions in hiding as a member of the audience and cannot even go and hug Archie due to the fear of rejection. The longing of a child to be recognised for its efforts and the longing to belong somewhere is overwhelming. The surprise ending baffles the readers who are left to sympathise with the narrator. The novella is very well constructed within barely twenty five pages. There is the constant criss crossing of laughter and tears. Readers familiar with Lisa Genova’s Still Alice will find the two books working along similar lines.

Heartfelt and difficult to swallow with a pathos that is every child’s dread.

Committed to Beauty by Ify Okonta

Ugly, blockhead, black skeleton and broomstick are few of the snide remarks that are hurled at her.

Title: Committed to Beauty

Author: Ify Okonta

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 18 July 2017

Genre: Gender and Literature

Rating: 4/5

A coming of age tale of a girl with aspirations that are constantly thwarted by a shallow world.

Facing constant discrimination since a young age due to her dark skin colour, Ella becomes the butt of several odious jokes. Far from arousing a laughter, they mar her self-esteem and morale. She is always bullied at school and struggles to not feel left out. Ugly, blockhead, black skeleton and broomstick are few of the snide remarks that are hurled at her. Somehow, her skin tone and outer appearance has set the mark for her intellectuality as most of her peers and even elders cannot seem to look past her colour into the nice person that she is.

Added to her undesirous skin tone is her frail structure. Set in Nigeria where the parameters of beauty are different from the rest of the world, Ella takes inspiration from a televised beauty contest and decides to run for a pageant one day. But fate has other plans for her. Running into the boy who spoke up for her when no one else did, she mistakes his momentary kindness as a serious interest in her. Her hopes are frequently dashed as he barely ever notices her. With hardly any friends to rely on and no one to share her emotions with, Ella subconsciously learns how to play the background character in her own life. During days of walking about as a shadow in broad daylight, the news of her father’s transfer to America makes her hopeful of a better beginning only to learn that people’s behaviour towards her isn’t much different. Earlier she was bullied, now she’s plain ignored. She is an excessively black girl in an excessively white land.

The story revolves around several chance happenings where fate and Ella’s own perseverance play a major role in her successful rise before the very eyes of those who constantly taunted her. From contesting a beauty pageant to winning it and becoming a celebrity, Ella’s life before and after the contest are not very different. She barely receives any contracts due to her dark complexion and has to hunt for directors and photographers in unfamiliar cities. The book touches upon some very crucial themes of racism and stereotypes based on skin colour. It portrays the scenes behind the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry in a realistic manner. It highlights the short lived success of reality shows and how such shows leave contestants more desperate and jobless.

Things take a drastic turn as a group of models including one of her friends die in the WTC collapse on 9/11. This begins a series of mishaps and heart breaking incidents that coax Ella into becoming a more independent person who seeks to rely only on God.

People who’ve been in odd situations and felt like fishes out of water will definitely related to this story. It rings a bell with all those who’ve been teased for their appearance or have been through gruesome experiences of stereotyping and racial profiling. The story brings out the startling idea that the society’s ideals about beauty are more or less the same regardless of the racial or geographical differences. People have idealized certain standards of beauty in wanting a fair skin texture which is seen in the episodes in which Ella undergoes trials of bleach creams to attain a fair skin. It is one of the many indications that Okonta makes about the cosmetic industry that allows for such ideals to proliferate and whose main target buyer is the one with broken self-worth. The book also shows that time is the greatest of players and life eventually turns around unpredictably for most people. Those who made fun or ignored others turn out to become worse than their victims and have to battle difficult predicaments. The story is complex and slightly lengthy though that doesn’t drag the story line in any way. Events reveal newer themes and the reader is constantly made to think about these issues with some fairly good lessons. Ella becomes the epitome of hope as a modern, independent woman who can handle her challenges and brave the world on her own terms with her original appearance which is justly elucidated in the title of the book. Okonta strives to portray Ella as being beautiful both inside and out. True beauty irradiates when one begins to love oneself.

Hope giving, captivating and inspiring struggle of a lonesome girl in battling a cacophobic society.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

Japan: History of Japan: The Most Important People, Places and Events in Japanese History. From Japanese Art to Modern Manga. From Asian Wars to Modern Superpower by Rui Kanda

Skimming through is not a good idea as each sentence is full of data and missing out on any of it breaks the flow of an otherwise methodical narrative.

Title: Japan: History of Japan: The Most Important People, Places and Events in Japanese History. From Japanese Art to Modern Manga. From Asian Wars to Modern Superpower

Author: Rui Kanda

Publisher: Lean Stone Publishing

Date of Publication: 15 June 2017

Genre: Self- Help

Rating: 3/5

In this crisp guide Rui Kanda provides some vital information and clarifies misconceptions about the land of anime, geishas and samurais.

This short handbook elucidates in a chronological order the main events that have transformed Japan into the superpower that it is today. The book begins by elaborating about the three dynasties of the ancient period namely Jomon, Yaoyi and Kofun. It may come as a surprise but Japan has been subjected to numerous waves of Chinese and Korean immigrants. The ‘Shinto’ religion gave way to Buddhism as Japan entered into the Asuka period. Slowly but steadily Japan has been able to constitutionalise its tradition and culture. It has seen the rise of Samurais that have served as brand ambassadors of Japanese culture worldwide. Like the Samurais, Japan has become famous for its strength and meditative dedication. The book traces each period of Classical and modern Japan to the tee.

Each of the chapters end with Fun Facts and Questionnaires. Further Misconceptions are clarified in curt bullet points. Kanda mentions the foundation of the modern Japanese nation as a clash of various contradictory clans. Gory wars ripped apart the country but in turn aided in spreading Zen Buddhism. It is interesting to know the various formations and groupings that the clans made in their fierce combat against their opponents. The author uses interesting parallels between ninjas and Persian Hashshashin(s) to explain the similarities and differences which provides a better picture of the whole culture.

Though the book is loaded with information it can tend to being tedious and monotonous. Readers may find it difficult to process so much information at one time. It is easy to read but takes quite some patience especially for those who are already unfamiliar with Japanese terminology.  Skimming through is not a good idea as each sentence is full of data and missing out on any of it breaks the flow of an otherwise methodical narrative. If the Choice Were Yours section makes one think differently about the flow of historical events and makes the reader place himself in history regardless of whether he’s Japanese or of some other nationality. Many may find the book too bland and factual. All throughout there is little description, commentary or the author’s added viewpoints.

Despite the challenges of feudalism, imperialism, the effects of WWII and constant threats of natural calamities, Japan has stood through all hurdles and become a global superpower. It is this perseverance in the face of odds and resilience to difficulties that gives Japan the sense of high dignity which is commendable and worth replicating. The book is a good one time read for those who may be planning a trip to Japan or for those who’re hoping to ace a quiz on Japanese history.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

The Photographer’s Eye: Seeing with a Camera by Arthur Wenk

He makes some very important and interesting points: “Seeing the world through a photographer’s eyes often requires thinking like a camera instead of like a human being” and “A photograph is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world.”

Title: The Photographer’s Eye: Seeing with a Camera

Author: Arthur Wenk

Publisher: Amazon Asia-Pacific Holdings Private Limited

Date of Publication: 11 August 2017

Genre: Self-Help

Ratings: 4/5

John Keats notes in his 1818 poem Endymion: “A thing of beauty is a joy forever”. If it can be summed up in a line then this truly is the ultimate aim of photography. As exciting as it sounds, it is a very arduous task to capture the inner beauty of any particular object. In this brief and informative guide, photographer Arthur Wenk lays bare the basics of taking a good photograph.

Arthur Wenk presents the basis of his explanations on years of meticulous study and experience in a lucid and simple manner. The book dives into the technical aspects of an otherwise artistic endeavour. A good photograph has a lot of elements which become the embodiment of the pictures imagined up in the mind. It is an external manifestation of the photographer’s vision. Being able to take a good photo has a lot to do with owning a good camera but it also involves a proper knowledge of the technicalities and a clear vision of what is to be produced in print. It includes the ability to envision a good shot of a particular scene.

The book is well illustrated with large photographs of landscape, wildlife and portraits taken by Arthur Wenk. Most of them are shots of and around Toronto, Ontario. A variety of pictures are provided under each subheading that makes it easier to understand the topic discussed and adds a livelier touch to the book. The different aspects include form, color, texture and setting. It is ultimately all a matter of persective. Perspective can be altered by the use of different lenses that give wide angle views. Zoom is another interesting feature in many digital cameras that allows for a deeper perspective without having to move closer and be able to see things from far. The book is a concise and  good introductory lesson on the points that amateurs need to keep in mind during photography sessions. He makes some very important and interesting points: “Seeing the world through a photographer’s eyes often requires thinking like a camera instead of like a human being” and “A photograph is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional world.” Wenk gives ideas on how to create filters for abstraction patterns by using the camera’s effects. It is important to keep in mind to fill up the entire frame instead of taking cornered pictures or having objects in a frame pushed to one side. Also nothing makes a photo worse than improper lighting.

At the end of the book Wenk provides some tasks for the application of these skills which make the book more interesting and give a clearer idea. The book showcases the idea that a lot of thinking actually goes behind every single photo and without this kind of understanding of the subject good photos will be difficult to produce. Wenk ends the book by introducing and recommending the editing software ‘Picasa’ that he personally finds very useful. The illustrations are a treat to the eyes. Though short, the book is very formal and to the point. Readers may find the written material a bit too brief and not descriptive enough. Yet, it is a good read for anyone who takes interest in photography or wants to improve their photography skills regardless of whether they own a DSLR or have attended photography crash courses.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

Megan’s Munchkins by Pamela Foland

But through it all, both Megan and her readers will realise the practical difficulties of raising an animal that does not survive on mere warm hugs.

Title: Megan’s Munchkins( Megan’s World) Volume I

Author: Pamela Foland

Publisher: Sonny’s Legacy Publishing

Date of Publication: 21 June 2017

Genre: Children’s Literature

Rating: 4.3/5

Fun filled adventures with a bunch of furry feline friends.

Megan wants a pet. However, her parents don’t consider her responsible enough to care for one. A young adult of 13, Megan considers herself old enough to look after one. But her persistence is useless in the face of constant disapprovals from a family that suffers from periodic allergies. Little does Megan know that one fine morning her longing will come true leaving her with no other option but to adopt a litter of four.

Megan is no ordinary teenager. She is fairly aware of her duties and knows the expectations and faith that her family places in her. She tries to balance those with her own wishes of having a pet. Unlike grumpy or demanding teens, Megan is mature and compliant. She wants to prove herself and make get her way but not go against anyone or displease anybody. The nuances of emotions and thoughts that are relayed in Megan’s mind are well captured throughout the narrative. More interesting are the creative and quirky ideas that young Megan has to think up in order to keep her find a secret in the closet. Her parents are strict but not overbearing. They take interest in their children’s lives and keep learning about their assignments or work. With sneaking out of school regularly and her pile of lies growing each day, Megan stresses about being caught and detained. Yet the guilt doesn’t push her to confess. But is lying justified even if it is for a good cause? With the constant meowing and purring how long will Megan be able to keep her secret undiscovered?

 Megan’s Munchkins is Pamela Foland’s debut novel in the Megan’s World Series. Inspired by Foland’s own experiences of bringing in stray dogs and injured birds while growing up in Plano, Texas; the novel is reflective of the extent of love and devotion that a caregiver can selflessly provide. Beyond reflecting the innocent queries and longings of childhood, the book has some serious morals to teach. Children are bound to associate their own feelings with Megan’s sorrow of being turned down, her thrill on discovering the litter and be dazzled by her dedication towards raising the kittens to the best of her abilities. But through it all, both Megan and her readers will realise the practical difficulties of raising an animal that does not survive on mere warm hugs. Raising a pet means providing proper nourishment, hygiene, regular trips to the veterinary clinic and consistent funding. Megan’s reliable presence by the side of these motherless kittens, her independent initiative and philanthropic behaviour mirrors the dedication that a good pet owner provides as opposed to those who fail to look after adopted animals; in turn mistreating and abandoning them. Above all, it is her focused research and study about these animals from dependable sources that forms the very basis of being able to successfully nurture them.

For the sheer delights of looking after and watching another life bloom to its fullest with assisted care.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

Of Love and Mental Health: March, 2015- May, 2017 by Max Micallef

These poems become the voice of those moments of voicelessness and speechlessness where nothing logical can be expressed by anyone who is burdened beyond traumatic effects.

Title: Of Love and Mental Health: March, 2015 – May, 2017

Author: Max Micallef

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 16 July 2017

Genre: Poetry

Rating: 5/5

“UnEarth the rails and let my pain

end on this note

no more

this game”

A short collection of intense poems that shakes the very core of ‘grief’.

Imagine yourself lost in a maze of trees in a dark forest. Your fingers brush against the trunks looking for some guidance. You are all alone. Your voice hollows as the echoes fade before they can be heard. The maze makes a sharp bend at the corner. The air gets thicker. Another new turn barely fathomable. You are scared to the bone. Streaks of light penetrate the canopy as dusk draws near. You are trying very hard to find the way out. You have been trying for as long as you can remember. You call out but there’s nobody to hear you. You hasten your paces as a fog brews up engulfing the darkness. Its opacity completely impairs your vision. You blink faster than you run. Some branches slash your face as you try to flee from invisible hands grabbing at you. Is this even real? But you keep running. This is a race against time and you don’t have any.

Emotions run riot in this poetry collection that epitomises the long endured and never ending struggle of a poet during a sorrowful phase of his life. The poems showcase his desperation to find a way out of personal mess. Things are out of focus as his vision in life remains blurred due to emotional stress. They reflect the mind of a psychopath and trace the dilemmas, the horrors and the reclusiveness that only does more harm. What is worse is that the poet cannot help but keep retracing those hurtful incidents in his mind over and over again creating a vicious cycle.

The book is heart wrenching. It rips apart the soul and touches the heart of the readers that is bound to be rattled at the extent of devastation a person can struggle with. It is a suffocation that many may have experienced, known or at least seen. The long drawn heavy breaths can almost be heard through the lines. Things begin in media res and emphasis is laid on the emotionality rather than the context which gave rise to the sentiments. Though at times the poet may seem to be a ‘paranoid schizophrenic’ but the poems are every bit intellectual. These poems become the voice of those moments of voicelessness and speechlessness where nothing logical can be expressed by anyone who is burdened beyond traumatic effects.

If you have been through depression or know anyone who is going through depression then offer them this book. This book may be an important step in the process of healing for someone who may otherwise not contemplate on living any longer. It becomes a great medium to share similar emotions and find common grounds towards rehabilitation. The poems are dense and profoundly meaningful. Though they never follow any fixed rhyme scheme or stanzaic patterns but some of the two liners almost pose as moralistic couplets. Working along themes of suicide, heartbreak and separation which in turn give rise to further self- loathing, self- disgust, low self- esteem, mood swings and hallucination; it is a great book that helps in understanding the workings of a psychologically disturbed person’s mind. They showcase the anger and hatred that builds up inside a person having suffered at the hands of another or many others. Micallef ends the book with an added suggestion to shrug off any shame or social stigma while seeking help and to encourage others in cultivating a sound mental health. Ending one’s life is never the answer. Counselling should be easily available, useful and reliable. Most importantly it should be respectful of an individual’s privacy. Sharing depression can and will help in preventing cases of untimely suicide. It is a topic that needs to be discussed and cannot be brushed under the carpet. As for the sorrows of heartbreak, Micallef  quotes Ms. Amy Winehouse, “Tears Dry On Their Own.”

Fragments of intense heart ache that are bound to choke up tears.

Click the book cover to grab your copy. Happy Reading!

Numerology: Divination & Numerology: Fortune Telling, Success in Career and Wealth, Love and Relationships, Health and Well Being- Fortune Telling with Numbers to Reveal your future by Vicki B Larock

Divided into chapters, the book unfolds information systematically. The handbook pattern helps in providing crucial information and deals in a technical manner with a topic that is otherwise controversial.

Title: Numerology: Divination and Numerology: Fortune Telling, Success in Career and Wealth, Love and Relationships, Health and Well Being-Fortune Telling with Numbers to Reveal your Future

Author: Vicki B Larock

Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 5 April 2016

Genre: Self-Help

Rating: 5/5

 

numerology

An insightful handbook that delves into the age old debate of categorising numerology as scientific, artistic or divine.

Most people will not turn down a chance to rectify the faults in their stars. From famous celebrities to world leaders, numerology finds its uniqueness in its ability to embrace everyone in its enchanting circle. It doesn’t discriminate or leave anyone out and is applicable to all. In this expanded third edition of this guide, the author brings out the parameters on which numerology rests. The book claims that numerology uses basic math and studying it will help improve one’s computing skills. Divided into chapters, the book unfolds information systematically. The handbook pattern helps in providing crucial information and deals in a technical manner with a topic that is otherwise controversial. Though little known, the historical basis of numerology lies in the Pythagorean equation. The book provides step by step information about calculating the significance of individual names in Chaldean, Chinese, Indian, Karmic and Kabbalistic traditions. Added to these are some interesting examples of symbolism and logo representations that are deep rooted in the magical matrix of mathematical calculations. What’s more?  All of this is not just math combined with alphabetic charm but has a lot more to do with metaphysical states of existence based on quantum mechanics applicable in achieving higher levels of enlightenment. In and of itself its complexity is mind boggling. This excellent guide also provides tips and advice on the successful establishment and ownership of your own numerology centre and the benefits of being a professional numerologist.

This comprehensive and easy to follow guide will reaffirm your faith in Numerology if you are a believer already. If not, then it sure is an enjoyable read to understand yourself, others and the principles that govern the functioning of the world. The book may interest students of philosophy, statistics, logic and mathematics. However, it is a must read for ardent adherents of Feng Shui and Vaastu Shastra.

Succinct, informative and entertaining.

So do the numbers really govern the stars? Can you alter your destiny by changing the alphabetic order of your name? Will arranging your life in set numerical patterns change the course of drudgery in your life? Read to find out.