Friday, 27 January 2017

Friendship: A True Story of Adventure, Goodwill, and Endurance... - Francis Mandewah

                Friendship is the touching story of a young Sierra Leonean boy, Francis Mandewah, and the American helicopter pilot he meets who ends up changing his life forever. All Francis wanted was to be able to go to school but because of extreme poverty his mother had to send him to live with a family member so that he could attend an affordable school. Here he was treated like a slave and beaten often. Then one day, due to the mysterious workings of God as Francis believes, he met American Tom Johnson, a helicopter pilot who transported blood diamonds. Tom paid for Francis to move to a new place where he wouldn’t be abused and be able to attend a better school. Eventually, in adulthood, he went to America and built a new life, all with Tom’s help.  Throughout the book, Francis’s belief and trust in God help him overcome many obstacles and his spirituality shines through. This is not a “feel-good” book that preaches religion and positive thinking. Mr. Mandewah takes the reader on a journey across the continents as he travels to Sicily, Greece, London and other places, always recounting the good and the bad in a factual and entertaining manner. The writing is not just good, it’s really good. He manages to recount events that had to have been difficult to for him but he doesn’t become hung up on emotion and lose the focus of his story. He provides an equal amount of information about events in his life and the details about the area he is writing about. I found his years in Africa to be fascinating. The way he lived would be very difficult for those of us in the Western world but was normal for him. I know that, for myself, I could never live without all of the amenities I have now or even without Western medicine. Mr. Mandewah never complains. In fact he makes it clear how much he cherished family time even during the hardships. These things are what makes this book such a great read. He keeps the pace moving so it’s a very fast and easy book to finish. The pictures at the back of the book provide a look at where Mr. Mandewah was born and the cover has a charming picture of Tom and him. The author writes that he would “never make a general negative statement based on whiteness” and that has really hit home with me. This formatted well to my ereader and is truly a wonderful read.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Awakening! - Dr. Tomer Sivron

                Awakening is a spiritual look at how to live our lives gracefully, heal ourselves using our minds, and be spiritual yet practical in our everyday lives. The book is broken up into three main sections. Part One is about how the author discovered the concepts he discusses in the book, partly through a “ride” he had while smoking cannabis a couple of times. The book is well written with a style that is easy and fast to read as well as being entertaining and interesting. He explains the scientific reasoning behind some things discussed in the book and this part is quite heavy reading where, I have to admit, I lost a bit of interest but it picked up quickly after I waded through the science. Part Two is the author explaining how to integrate what he has discovered into everyday life. He writes about self-healing (which I have some belief in), how to keep your body as fit as possible spiritually and physically, as well as a few other things that are very interesting to read about. Finally, the third and final section pulls the whole book together, intertwining all of the concepts in an easily read format.
                I enjoyed this book and found it to be very thought provoking. The author writes about a lot of ideas without being too “preachy”. He conveyed the sadness of Felix’s passing along with a relief that he would finally be free of his ruined body. I’m not sure I can buy into all of the ideas laid out, such as humans needing to be vegetarians, or letting our bodies use fevers to fight off infections without treating the fever, but I found it all quite interesting to read. I liked that there were lots of mini-sections within the three parts of the book. Also the bold print and type of font used helped make it easier to process the information. This book needs to be read with an open mind in order for the reader to enjoy it. If done, it will make for an entertaining read.
                I read this on my ereader and it formatted well with great editing.  I’m not sure why I loved the cover so much but it is eye catching and peaceful.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

No Accountability - Keith Lawton

                No Accountability is the follow up book to Mr. Lawton’s first book, No Photographs. It is the true account of the author’s childhood as he is moved through the system, care homes to foster homes, after tragedy strikes his family at the young age of five. As I read, keeping in mind this was a factual non-fiction account of Mr. Lawton’s life, it seemed almost unreal that this is a true story and parts of it were very hard to read. Knowing that a child was treated so horribly and nothing was done to help him is both tragic and disgusting. These things should never happen to anyone and my hopes are that things are better in today’s system, although I’m not na├»ve enough to think bad things don’t still happen. Mr. Lawton writes with a passion and drive that makes the reader want to understand what happened through a child’s eyes. It is an easy flowing style of writing that is both engaging and thought provoking. He doesn’t just write about what happened to him but also implores people to start doing something to make changes to the system and to be aware and report any wrongdoings. These things happened in the U.K. so I’m not altogether sure if the laws are the same here in Canada, but I’m in hopes things have gotten better. The book’s timeline starts in the 1950s and I loved reading about what life was like growing up during this time, pre-tragedy. The search for what happened to his father, because he didn’t remember due to his tender age at the time, is a tug at the heart strings. Mr. Lawton’s emotions are conveyed so well that the reader is able to feel the author’s pain throughout the book. I like the fact that this is written directly by Mr. Lawton and not a different writer that he has told his story to, because he expresses the feelings in a raw way and nothing is sugar-coated to make the story “pretty”. I hope Mr. Lawton has found some peace and happiness in his life and I thank him for opening up his life in hopes of helping others and raising awareness. 
                I read this in digital format and it was very well edited with a sweet picture on the cover. Excellent!

Simulation - M. Black

                Dystopian novels seem to be the new “it” genre in the book world. It seems like everywhere I look it’s either zombies or the end of the world…or both. So, for me to enjoy a book like this it has to have something different that will catch my attention. It has to be fast paced with likeable characters and a story line that leaves me wanting more. By the end of Simulation, I was hoping that it was going to be the first book in a long series. I loved the characters, who were easy to like or hate, whichever the case may be. The writing was really good and there were a lot of twists to the story that I really wasn’t expecting, the big one being the simulation itself.
                I didn’t start out thinking I was going to end up liking this book. The first few pages were about the introduction of Ilia and Eleeza as they went on a mission to get some colours from the Givers and it piqued my interest. I knew immediately that Ilia was my kind of girl and Eleeza was definitely not someone I would ever want to spend any time befriending. However, I few pages in I started to find the story dragging a bit. This could just be my problem. I read a whole lot of books and don’t have a lot of patience if a story doesn’t keep me entertained. I also know that an author has to set the story up. Having read previous books written by M. Black, I knew this was her style and things would pick up soon. I wasn’t wrong.
                I’ll start with the fantastically creative world that M. Black has set this story in. As a reader, I’ve never thought about how intricate the details of creating a new world must be, right down to how the Outsiders clean their teeth and freshen their breath with sharp sticks and cloves. The different clans that are visited throughout the book are fascinating. Their stories about how they came to be and how they survive after Earth’s devastation is detailed and thoughtful. Even the description of how the Earth came to be the way it is presently in the book was, to be honest, downright scary because everything that caused the problems are what is happening right now in our world, such as overpopulation, pollution, acid rain, animal extinction, etc. A lot of the dystopian books aren’t very believable but most things in Simulation seemed like things that could be a part of our future if we aren’t more careful.
                The emotions in the book were so raw at times that I felt myself feeling what the characters felt as they experienced them. The anger the Outsiders felt towards the residents of the citigogs was so like the anger that many from war torn countries feel towards Westerners and that made it all the more believable. When Panch lost his daughter in the drone attack and ilia realized that her father caused it, the pain she felt almost brought tears to my eyes. M. Black has the ability to bring these emotions off the page and into the hearts of her readers. She does this subtly and never over does the hand-wringing and heart-wrenching. A lot of the book is like this, where she made me feel certain emotions without telling me that is how I should be feeling. This is the sign of a great writer, in my opinion, who writes elegantly and neatly, all while entertaining the reader.
                Overall, Simulation is a great book and very entertaining to read. The characters are multi-dimensional and well written. As I said before, the world M. Black has created is beyond fantastic. I just wish this were the start of a long series.