Publisher: The BookGuild Ltd.Author: John Powell
Price (Kindle Edition): $4.70
Genre: Satirical Fantasy
I love reading children’s books every once in a while and that helps not only in widening my imagination as a writer but also in taking a break from the regular humdrum of dark and deep reads. So, I picked up ‘Saint George: Rusty Knight and Monster Tamer’ by John Powell, which turned out to be a quite fun read. Here’s my review of the same:
Blurb from the book:
In a world infested with monsters intent on harassing the citizenry and scaring the livestock, you need an efficient Patron Saint and Minister for the Environment. George, a vertically challenged and impoverished knight in rusty armour, would appear a poor choice were it not for the fact that, during his travels in the Austrian Tyrol, he discovered a cake with the miraculous power to tame monsters. Suddenly, and for the first time in his life, George is in demand.
Elevated to ministerial position by King Freddie and Prime Minister Merlin, George becomes famous, while remaining (sadly) impoverished, and wittingly or otherwise has a hand in improving international relations with France, creating the first trade union, repelling a Scottish invasion and defining the number of players in a cricket team.
This sharp and witty satirical comedy, filled with comic caricatures and disgruntled dignitaries and set in a time-we-have-all-forgot will appeal to young people and adults alike.
Plot- ‘Well… it was in the days of Good King Freddie’, marks the beginning of the collection of these short adventures of George, the Patron Saint of England and the Minister for the Environment.
George is a poor knight with a rusty armour who is struggling to find a job. He travels far in the search of a job and in the process, discovers the secret to tame the monsters that overrun England, scaring the citizens and livestock.
When the news of his discovery reaches the good old King Freddie, he fires Cuthbert, the previous Patron Saint, who according to Freddie, ‘… can’t tell a Welsh dragon from an Irish whatsit.”, in the blink of an eye after being advised to do so by the wisest man in England, Merlin the Whirlin, who wears a pointed hat because he is short. George eagerly accepts the position of the Patron Saint and rids the country of all the monsters by turning them into pets.
This book is a comical collection of the tales of adventures of George, Merlin and Freddie and Jack.
Read the book to know more!
Also, read Book Review- ‘Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo’ By Michael Pronko
About the Author:
John Powell has had a long and distinguished career as an industrial and scientific engineer. In 1971 he travelled to Ghana to take up the post of senior lecturer in mechanical engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, and his life-long love affair with Ghana began. Since then he has travelled the world as a consultant to many international agencies, including UNIDO. He was awarded the OBE in 1991 for services to technical education in Ghana, and in 2003 he was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by KNUST in recognition of his long and invaluable service to the country. He now lives in Whitney, Oxfordshire.
The winners of the second contest are:
1. Hemant Kapoor
2. Tara Farah
3. Neha Bhandari
I have read all your comments but my exams demand my time and I’ll have to skip on answering them for the time being! Please bear with me and thanks awfully for participating in this contest! xx
Author: Tonya Royston
Price (Kindle Edition): $0.99/ ₹66
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Young Adult is quite a repetitive genre, so while choosing the books, I make sure there is a new element or something different than the normal cliches. ‘Gypsy Magic’ by Tonya Royston, book one in the Gypsy Magic Trilogy, is a YA paranormal romance which is, thankfully, not following all the cliches. Here’s my review of the same:
Blurb from the book:
Gracyn Pierce is starting over. She has a new home, a new boyfriend, and a new horse. Everything is perfect, or so it seems. Because Gracyn left a secret behind. In her quest to erase the memory of that night, she forces herself to study hard, her sights set on an Ivy League college.
But her attempts to stay focused are derailed when the neighbor suspected of murdering his sister returns to town. As if that isn’t enough, her senses begin to change in ways that aren’t physically possible. As hard as she tries to find an explanation, there isn’t one.
Gracyn soon learns that things are not what they appear to be. Even her sister who took her in is hiding something. Will Gracyn continue pursuing her goal of getting accepted to a top-notch university, or will the secrets of the past and present ruin her future?
Plot- Gracyn, a teen, has recently found out about a sister her mother gave up for adoption long before her birth. Her mother has a new job in Moscow but she chooses to move to Sedgewick, Massachusetts instead, to live with her newly found half-sister Becca and her husband to finish her senior year of high school.
Gracyn doesn’t mind the change as she has a few secrets of her own. In the conquest of erasing the memories of that night, she throws herself into studying as hard as she can to get into a top Ivy League college. Becca is thrilled to have her and gifts her a horse named Gypsy which helps Gracyn overcome her fear of horses due to a scary riding incident from her childhood.
Gracyn adjusts with the new school, makes new friends while focusing hard on her studies. Along the way, she meets Alex, a senior, and they hit it off well. Then enters the ‘bad boy’, the third wheel to the budding romance, Lucian.
Lucian is the prime suspect in a two-year-old murder that took place in the woods in Becca’s neighborhood. Even though she’s scared, Gracyn is drawn to Lucian but she is dating Alex and as it so seems, is happy with.
All this while, Gracyn has noticed some strange, inexplicable changes in herself and has discovered that there are several secrets that this town hides. What are these secrets and what becomes of Gracyn when she finds them out?
Read the book to know more!
Also, read Book Review- ‘Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo’ By Michael Pronko
About the Author:
Tonya lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, son, two dogs and two horses. Although she dreamed of writing novels at a young age, she was diverted away from that path years ago and built a successful career as a Contracts Manager for a defense contractor in the Washington, DC area. She resurrected her dream of writing in 2013 and hasn’t stopped since. When she isn’t writing, Tonya spends time with her family. She enjoys skiing, horseback riding, and anything else that involves the outdoors. More information about Tonya and her writing can be found at www.tonyaroyston.com.
The book is the base for the sequels and a lot of things have been left to be discovered in the next part. I enjoyed reading it but I’m really hoping it doesn’t end up being the same old story.
For my gang, we have several such memories but what truly brought all of us close were the grades 8, 9 and 10. We were, in-a-way, the cool gang but mind you, not mean girls.
Our friendship blossomed with the school tour in grade 8 where we didn’t just share rooms but shared our deepest secrets and life has never been better.
Amongst other things, the one memory that jumps up in all our minds as soon as we think of tour is the one where we forgot Shripali and the blame is on me!
I was the one who locked the door after checking no one else was in the room, the area restricted to my line of sight. And the worst part is, we didn’t even realise it until two teachers told us off about it. We were descending the stairs, and there comes the witch, puffing with anger, and screamed at us about why have we locked our friend in our room. We assumed she must have mistaken us for some other group and walked along, feeling nothing but joy. That’s when another teacher, a PTI teacher who we all considered to be sane, came up and told us the same thing she did.
Now, we panicked. We were all here, who did we lock in? Each of us looked at another and as the conclusion dawned on us, we screamed in unison, ‘Shripali!’ and we ran to the reception. I took the key and made my way upstairs and was tugging the key into the wretched keyhole which just wouldn’t accept it when another teacher came up and asked me what I was doing. Her face was writ with incredulity as I told her why I was there. She said you are on the wrong floor, as she slapped her forehead. Hands down, one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. So I went up and unlocked our door, and out came Shripali, teary-eyed, asking for phone numbers of those of us who had brought cell phones to the tour!
After the tour, after sharing a room and clothes and secrets, school became much more fun.
How one day, we had played Holi, as I remember that day was the last day of school before summer break, grade 8. Holi is the festival of colours, but we played it with water, and we drenched each other, the whole class in water. There was no teacher in the class and it was like monsters let out in open. It was one of the craziest days in our school life. We wasted a lot of water and I’m not proud of it but it was fun, really fun, guilty as charged.
Thinking about those days, I remember the time we all stuck up for each other because ours was easily the naughtiest class in the school and teachers hated us. We were sent down to the witch’s(no other word comes to mind) office almost every day. It became such a routine that even she was bored with us coming down but she never spared us.
She always made sure that the lives of the girls in the school should be miserable and that should start with their appearance. As if telling us that we had to make plaits wasn’t enough for her cruel heart, we had to make two ponies, with pleats and tie ribbons in it! Even imagining that horrendous rule gives me the chills but we worked it out, anyway!
We all came in normally and one of us would make another’s plaits, not me, though, I was always on the receiving side. We would go to the assembly looking like jokers and as soon as we return to class, our hair would have a free fall.
We did all those cliched things, sharing assignments, missing classes, roaming corridors and having loads of fun.
Now, why don’t you tell me?
What is that one memory that jogs back to your mind when you meet up with the best of your friends and have the time of your life that brought you all together?
Amidst the cluster of reality shows like Roadies and Big Boss, ZEE TV is coming up with this light-headed, fun-filled show testing and teasing Celebrity friendships and providing a good laugh to the viewers.
For the first time on Indian television, ZEE TV brings you a fun-filled chat show Vivo Smartphone presents Yaaron Ki Baraat co-powered by Amazon.in and Brooke Bond Red Label that will put celebrity friendships to test through a series of fun challenges and tasks. Tune into ZEE TV at 8 PM on 8th October.
Author: Claire Youmans
Price (Kindle Edition): $2.98
Genre: Historical Fiction
My reading journey started with the gems of Enid Blyton, Famous Five, and since then, I never miss the chance of exploring the world of tales weaved for children. The Toki-Girl and Sparrow-Boy by Claire Youmans is one such book and here’s my review of it:
Plot- Set in the Japanese Feudal age, this is the story of two bird children the Toki-girl, Azuki and her brother, the Sparrow-boy, Shota. Gifted by the Jizo to their parents, the bird children were leading a happy life until greed took over the Sheriff and he kidnapped Azuki.
Losing their parents amidst the chaos, Azuki decided to go on a journey to find her Toki-kin, to settle into a life where no human could be hurt because of her. While Azuki is on the route of self-acceptance, the little brother Shota has to bring Azuki back to the village before they are banished from a respectful life in the human world as he promised his dying mother.
On their own different paths, the children discover their destiny, their likes, and dislikes.
Along with the main story, runs another story that of a young Japanese woman, Anko and a western naval officer, Benjamin. Even though attracted to each other, both of them keep their feelings at bay knowing the cultural and traditional hurdles.
A war is breaking out in the Azuki’s village and they must return before the equinox before they are declared dead.
Also read: Book Review- ‘Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo’ By Michael Pronko
About the Author:
Claire Youmans is an accomplished adult non-fiction and mystery writer who has also written and edited innumerable articles, engaging audiences for over 20 years. With a deep love for Japan and its culture, Claire has traveled there extensively studying the country’s culture and folklore.
While working on a play produced in Tokyo, The Great Grateful Jizo, Claire was so inspired by two minor characters — Azuki, a Toki-Girl, and her brother, Shota, a Sparrow-Boy — that she expanded their story into The Toki Girl and the Sparrow Boy. With generous doses of adventure, suspense, folklore and fantasy, Claire has brought their visually compelling story into book form.
At times, boredom set in but it wore off with the introduction of the next mystical thing. Combining history and imagination, the author has made admirable efforts.
I grabbed the box set at an unbelievable price, so I’ll be commenting on the next two installments as well. Meanwhile, give this book a chance and help your children expand the horizons of their imagination and know the Japanese culture.
Indian diets are mostly a mixture of carbs and fats with a pinch of protein, comparatively. The body requires a balanced dosage of nutrients, especially protein to repair the broken tissues and to make the enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Proteins are the key to a stronger body.
Taste and Mixability: It is a little sweet for my taste because I take it with water, but if you choose to take it with milk, it might taste better. It mixes seamlessly, and no lumps are formed. The shaker is quite useful. Put one scoop of powder with 300 ml of water and shake it for 15-20 seconds. The texture is excellent.
Benefits: The first question that’ll cross your mind, why should I take it? Simple, here’s why:
Usage for Body Building: One scoop with milk as it increases the number of calories.
Whey Protein Concentrate
Energy = 120 kcals
Total Fat = 1.9g
Sodium = 60 mg
Total Carbohydrates = 4.5g
Protein = 23g
Sugar = 0g
Cholesterol = 45 mg
Personal Opinion: When it comes to eating something healthy, the biggest problem we face is the taste. Whey Protein is a popular dietary supplement and a useful addition to a weight loss diet. With MFF, the taste gets taken care of as offers flavored as well as unflavored whey. I found the quality quite good and it does curb hunger, that I can assure you. I take it after my morning game of Basketball or a long walk. One thing to remember is to not overdo the dosage or to take it with milk which will lead to weight gain. Why I chose MFF? I support Make in India, and of course, the good reviews it already has.
Whey Protein is not just a convenient way to boost your protein intake, but it has some powerful health benefits as well. – Authority Nutrition
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You can buy MFF Whey protein 80 Online from their website.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Author: Michael Pronko
Publisher: Raked Gravel Press
Price(Kindle Version): $2.83 / ₹201
I’m not particularly a fan of the non-fiction genre but I don’t know what made me do it, I sampled this book and I don’t regret my decision of buying it eventually. Owing to my love of Manga and Anime, Japanese culture is a fascination to me and this fascination was one of the large contributing factors that made me read this book. Here’s my review of Motions and Moments: More Essays on Tokyo by Michael Pronko:
Quick Blurb from the book–
Motions and Moments is the third book by Michael Pronko on the fluid feel and vibrant confusions of Tokyo life. These 42 new essays burrow into the unique intensities that suffuse the city and ponder what they mean to its millions of inhabitants.
Based on Pronko’s 18 years living, teaching and writing in Tokyo, these essays on how Tokyoites work, dress, commute, eat and sleep are steeped in insights into the city’s odd structures, intricate pleasures and engaging undertow.
Included are essays on living to size and loving the crowd, on Tokyo’s dizzying uncertainties and daily satisfactions, and on the 2011 earthquake. As in his first two books, this collection captures the ceaseless flow and passing flashes of life in biggest city in the world with gentle humor and rich detail.
Theme- The author takes the reader on an armchair visit to Tokyo with his eloquent and vivid essays describing the cultural and social practices that take place in Tokyo along with the everyday life of a Tokyoite. Although the author has been living in Tokyo for 18 years, he projects his view of Tokyo as that of an outsider in his essays. The book is essentially a love letter to Tokyo by the author.
From the intricacies of the city’s structure to the daily rush for the commute, the essays create a brief sketch of a day in Tokyo. From the picture the author paints, Tokyo is a giving, yet a closed city. Onigiri (rice balls) is their favorite snack and their obsession with English slogan t-shirts is ever increasing. Tokyoites are skilled multitaskers that excel in fitting things in and take pleasure in creating and filling forms.
The author often compares the life in Tokyo with that of the life in America, from where he actually hails. For an instance, ‘in the west, pleasures are either individual choice or a universal human experience. In Japan, pleasures are Japanese.’ Although non-fiction, the book has been written in a story-like manner. Each essay reflects the pride of the city and the culture it upholds be it the usage of honorifics while addressing someone or the parting ritual at the end of the day
The highlight of the book is the Part 4: Quaking. Dated essays about the aftereffects of the fatal earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011. They capture the essence of the emotional turmoil that every tokyoite felt after the earthquake and how they coped with the tragedy.
The author has sprinkled Japanese words here and there in the essays. Some of them have been explained while some aren’t to avoid interruption of the flow. There’s a glossary at the end for easy reference.
The author’s previous books on Tokyo have been widely appreciated and awarded.
Some interesting observations in the author’s words:
‘All over Tokyo, perfect outfits rise up like figures plucked from a Milan window display.’ – Perfect Outfits
‘One misplaced step means a bruised knee or bashed hip or, even worse, embarrassment.’ – Public Tightness.
‘Tokyoites seem to appreciate both sides, being both tough enough to change and tough enough to stay the same.’ – Construction and Resistance
‘Onigiri are like a haiku of the entire Japanese food culture.’ – A Meal in the Hand
‘The memory of that blanketing pink offered a reminder that beauty shows up on schedule, but it also arrives in swift gusts of vivid surprise.’ – Hanami, and Just After
Personal Opinion: I’ve never read non-fiction before and it feels safe to say that I couldn’t have asked for a better start. The book is informative but it doesn’t bore you. The writing style of the author is vividly imaginative and easy to read. It feels as if with every new essay, you’re unfolding a new mystery about Tokyo. The revelation makes you a bystander; it doesn’t plunge you right inside leaving enough curiosity for you to want to uncover it yourself.
For all its worth, this book makes me want to write about my city and I find that idea quite entertaining.
Want to read? Check it out here.
Until next time,
Be kind to one another.