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

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!

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Megan’s Munchkins by Pamela Foland

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

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

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.

American History-US History: An Overview of the Most Important People & Events. The History of United States: From Indians to Contemporary History of America by William D Willis

Title: American History-US History: An Overview of the Most Important People & Events. The History of United States: From Indians to Contemporary History of America.

Author: William D Willis

Publisher: Lean Stone Publishing

Date of Publication: 20 November 2016

Genre: History/Politics

Rating: 5/5

 

history

 

Factual, tedious and irrelevant.

This is often how readers perceive lengthy accounts of historical incidents. However, this book is anything but that. It is a detailed documentation about the rise and growth of one of the most powerful countries in the history of nation states on the face of this planet.

The account describes the Americas with an unbiased and a prismatic view. Importantly, it presents the different points of views and opinions that have risen at various instances in laying the foundation of the country. One such example is the dispute regarding the celebration of Columbus Day on 12 October in memory of a personality who was the first to land on American soil but was also a well-known tyrant and slave trader. Initially the book presents historical facts; then interactive questions are posed that make readers think about the other possibilities or how history may have been altered had things taken a different course.

The pictorial illustrations of maps demarcating the various locations of the Americas and the impact of colonisation on the land is very useful. The book is informative and profound. The detailing is accurate and one is bound to go away with a lot of new knowledge. The sections that appear at the end of individual chapters titled “Through the Eyes of an Eye Witness” helps to establish a clearer picture of the severity of the colonisation process on the people living on the North American continent. The “Fun Facts” and “Misconceptions” sections also add to the educative quotient. In many instances, full original texts of handwritten letters, advertisement blue prints and published cartoons are printed which add liveliness that is reflected in the literary manifestations of featured poems on nationalistic themes such as those by William Wadsworth Longfellow.

The book deals with a very difficult subject with ease in a simplified manner. From medievalism to creation of a New World constructed by British and other European forces, America has seen storms and braced them bravely. The Treaty of Paris marked its establishment as a sovereign nation.  But it took America a longer time to achieve true independence. With internal upheavals and disintegrations, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of feminist movements demanding employment and suffrage; America is a nation that turned its bitter experiences to become a global entrepreneur and pioneer of change. It evolved from a land of aborigines to a land of immigrants that thrives on the promising American Dream. The book reveals that immigration bans are not new to the United States and laws to curb an influx of immigrants have been enforced since forever. “The United States had become a global player, and less than 120 years after its own independence, the nation had risen to prominence to rival Europe. Its relative insulation from European wars and the vast expanse of resources and land afforded the United States, along with its freedoms and wages that enticed large numbers of skilled labour, gave it such a position.” (pg 109, Constant Wars and Security, Chapter 5- The Great War and the Great Depression). The superiority of the United States over other colonies lies not only in the fact that it boldly stood through the tests put forward by its opponents but it challenged its colonizers, ousted them and rose to unimaginable heights.

While Norman Cousins believes that “History is a vast early warning system” and Mao Zedong notes that “Political power grows out of a barrel of a gun”; time is bound to acknowledge that history also often repeats itself. There are not just two sides to a story but many more. Playing a historian is a difficult position to be in and the author has fulfilled his role as an humanely unbiased narrator responsibly. This crisp recapitulation is a great read for students of history, political science, administration and law. Others may find it an interesting read to increase their understanding about the mightiest country in the world where everything is done king size.

India: History of India: From Prehistoric Settlements to the Modern Republic of India by Edward Pannell

 

Title: India: History of India: From Prehistoric Settlements to the Modern Republic of India

Author: Edward Pannell

Publisher: Lean Stone Publishing

Date of Publication: 15 June 2017

Genre: History/Politics

Rating: 5/5

 

india

“India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great-grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most instructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.”- Mark Twain

An unbiased and concise guide that delves into the very heart of the Indian subcontinent.

Opening with the inevitable enchantment that the very name has left for ages on the minds of people, Edward Pannell vows to leave no stone unturned. Drawing on the exotic ambience that became the reason for invaders to want to occupy this land, Pannell presents a historical perspective from the days of “milk and honey”. The narrative begins with the medieval era, ever since which the rise and demise of several ruling dynasties left India to be juggled from one hand to the other only to augment its magnetism. The French, Portuguese and European naval arrivals led to the British settlements leaving the final blow to the subcontinent by forcing its split into 3 parts of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Noting the various impressions on this land, he dissects the evolution of Indian history in a precise and factual manner. The counter events and civil revolutions are pitched with pros and cons to the original events that have several political bases. Pannell masters the art of presenting such a vivid and vibrant picture within mere 55 pages.

The language of the book is concise with short sentences that are easily understood. His apt choice of words presents the facts in a scientific and precise manner. Everything is to the point. The book follows a chronological movement of events. Images are patterned in the order in which they actually occurred. Pannell does not provide any personal detailing or added comments. The book serves as a handy guide for those interested in visiting or are already planning a trip to India in the near future. It may even be used as an introductory course book for school.

Some interesting facts included in the book are: corruption is not the only reason for India’s regression; it is the largest democracy in the world; falls in the category of one of the top 10% of wealthy nations; though a large section of the society is lives in abject poverty struggling for access to basic necessities. For those above them in the social strata things aren’t any better. They can only avail infrastructure and employment facilities that are below average in comparison to a lot of the world. Yet, India poses to be a promising superpower on the rise. The addition of “Interesting Facts” and “Pop Quizzes” at the end of each chapter makes the book more engaging. It highlights that one of the primary characteristics of India’s rich culture and heritage is its unity in the midst of diversity. It reassures of making a visit to India a unique experience that once attracted tourists because of its well established education, cultural and spiritual centres which explains the presence of eligible Indian origin workforce abroad, the spread of Ayurveda and the global practice of yoga to name a few.

The book gives an overview into everything Indian but it does not provide any travel tips though it may complement a travel guide well. Towards the end of the book is some useful information about sight-seeing in Delhi, visiting the Taj Mahal in Agra or Jaisalmer forts and Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad though the information is limited and misses out travel tips on the whole. However, the book helps in forming a connection with India to those who are absolutely alien to its rich history and culture.

Effortless, briefly enlightening and a very helpful handbook.

The Crazy in Babylon by Darrin J Friedman

Title: The Crazy in Babylon

Author: Darrin J Friedman

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Date of Publication: 11 July 2017

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 4/5

babylon
A top notch money broker battles depression as he tries to overcome the humiliation of a terminated work contract and an untimely divorce.

Being the best is always not easy. It comes at a price of self- sacrifice, determination, steadfastness and most importantly a steady temperament. Yale graduate Dan is well aware of the demanding nature of his work but his bipolarity will not allow him to focus through the very basic of daily activities. With events, both in his professional and personal life moving out of his favour, it is a rough ride as Dan struggles to make ends meet and regain his lost vigour.

Darrin J Friedman creates a fast paced thriller that will leave the readers asking for more. The story revolves around Dan’s personal and professional failures only to reveal the hidden darker realities of the brokerage industry. Sooner or later the incidents hint at realms of global political scenarios. With the constant intrusion of the CIA on the one hand and the underworld mafia on the other hand, Dan is in for a surprising set of mishaps that are far from putting his life together. He gets reappointed into his previous workplace on the basis of his ingenuity and diligence. Is it a sudden realisation on the part of his boss or are there more names at stake?
Becca is the biggest surprise, both to Dan and the readers. Initially she may appear to be a stupid and selfish person but Friedman instils in her the attributes of a strong lead female protagonist. Though the story revolves around Dan, it is Becca who shows great moral strength, courage and clear insights. Things take a toll as he is sent on a secret mission by the largest stake holder of the firm. A murky Bess sends along her granddaughter Becca for accompaniment as the duo move from posh locations and grand hotels, oodles of cash at their disposal and American military spying equipment. Underneath the glitz and glamour of elitism are the not so subtle hints of panopticism, surveillance, cyber-attacks, artificial intelligence, the banes of military nuclear weaponry and the difficulties of choice that harsh situations provide. With a clarity of thought, Friedman is straight forward in expressing his ideas. What is remarkable is the unbiased and open minded positions he is able to take in wheeling the entire narrative to a positive end despite dramatic and heart breaking downfalls. The scenery is not elaborated in detail except for mere mention of geographical locations such as Vegas or Washington DC. This enhances the focus on the characters and their personal histories.
Most characters are round and each is drawn distinctly from the others. They evolve as the story progresses to reveal the psychological reasons behind their behavior that is eventually shaped by their experiences. This chiaroscuro is the very spirit of the novel. It delves in the darkness of the world and human nature in which the rules of the game change upon shifts of fortune. At all times it is both a monetary and a mind game.
However, most of the characters recurrently use curse words in place of meaningful English language adjectives which after the first third may be a bit unsettling. Yet Friedman never misses to highlight the inherent goodness present in people who are hardened by the world. The plot is highly episodic and non- linear. Reminiscences glide from the present to flashbacks of the past and pining for a better future.
Dialogues are crisp and conversational. The second half of the novel races through events at a break neck speed as more characters and drastic defeats add to the climactic asphyxiations. Emotions run riot as Dan and his ex-wife feel estranged; Dan’s own drug regulated existence and Becca’s vengeful attitude caused by childhood molestation after the death of her mother. The power of a woman to woman relationship is at the heart of the novel.
It is the femme fatale Becca who brings a resolution by balancing passion and profession in a truly superhuman way. Above all, it does away with the notion of mental illness as a barrier to performing well in life. The author’s note at the end of the book is a judicious inclusion. With some added cadence and detailing of plot, the novel can be readily materialised into a major motion picture. Friedman reveals with sensitivity the bad things that happen to good people but with patience and perseverance a suitable end can be accomplished.

Informative, racy and an unpredictably jolted ride that fascinates the imagination.