Wednesday, May 30, 2012

If Truth were to be Told

Book:If Truth were to be Told
Author: Saket Suryesh

Available on Publisher's website: Serene Woods
Available on FlipKart
Also available on other sites such as Amazon

My views: It is a slim book of less than 100 pages comprising of several essays which will prod you to take a re-look at your life. It will teach you to love the man in the mirror - YOURSELF, to realise that you are truly unique and to celebrate yourself and your individuality.

Saket Suryesh comes across as a very sensitive writer, who is attuned to his own feelings and who through his book: 'If Truth were to be Told', hopes that readers will learn how to be attuned to their own feelings and will understand and accept themselves for what they are and what they stand for.

Too much planning dictates our life, yet we fail to understand that: ‘The Best laid plans of mice and men can often go awry’. In addition to our penchant for detailed planning, these days we are drowning in an endless cacophony of noises, especially noise from social networks. True, these do help to an extent, but an overdose of the same can kill.

In the opening essay, 'Going with the flow' the author tells us, not to over-plan but to be flexible and open. Pick a destination and pick a direction, is the lesson in this essay. If you plan each and every turn, each and every step and arrive at your milestone but not in the appointed time or in the planned manner, we may give up on the journey itself. What matters is being open to deviations that may occur, to take obstacles in our stride and to reach the destination.

To me, one paragraph in this essay stood out: “Just ask yourself when was the last time you looked at the new, green twig on the tree, or the droplets of rain, slowly forming shapes and falling from the iron railing. Just think of the immense peace that you feel out of just thinking of it, and then try to relearn how to do it again in today’s time and age....”

In fact, this paragraph reminds me of a former boss of mine. He had a paperweight on his table, a unique one filled with sparkling blue liquid, he would tilt it and see waves appear. Watching the ebb and flow of the tides in this plastic cube, calmed him. I love looking out of the window at the sky. A tiny glimpse of the vast expanse of the sky grounds me. My problems then appear miniscule. I realise I am just a tiny speck in this Universe and yes, this tiny speck will be taken care of.

Very often we ape others. Keeping up with the Joneses (substitute it with any name) is our routine. We covet things that others have. We lament that someone else got promoted and wonder why not me? We try and act like others. The truth is, that we need to realise we are unique, we have our own talents, each of us provides something different to this Universe. Learning to love the man in the mirror is essential; it will make us happier with our lives. We need to recognise our strengths and build upon that, sums up the author in the essay: 'Being Unique'.

One needs to understand the context in which the author has penned this essay. He states: “Do not try to be what you are not, try to be more of what you are, so that you shine with the splendour of a thousand stars, whatever maybe the duration”. If one were to read the previous sentence appearing in this essay: “Do not try to expand the faculty you have never been blessed with”, one may think that the author is against learning, against new experiences, against broadening one’s own horizon. It isn’t so. What this essay denotes is that one must look deep into oneself, regain one’s lost self, utilise our best attributes and not try and be someone else.

Other essays in this book are: Standing with one another; Love and virtue and Facing your Demons.

Since I related to the last essay best, let me touch upon that. Haven’t we argued with ourselves and said we are not pursing a particular dream because it is not practical to do so?

What is holding us back? Fear of being laughed at? Fear of failure? But nothing can be achieved without trying. This book is all about learning how to tap into the beauty of our inner child, our true self and bringing radiance to our lives.

The author also provided a wide range of quotes, including at the beginning of each chapter, ranging from those of Rumi to Voltaire.

I only wish the author had kept the introduction a bit crisper and avoided the use of some standard clich├ęs. An index to this book would also have been helpful.

Perhaps the author by writing this book has faced his own demons (it takes guts to write a book!), understood himself and others better and has come to terms with the complexities of life.

Celebrate yourself, celebrate your individuality. This is what the book is all about. If you are asking yourself questions about the complexities of life and relationships or doubting your own inadequacies this book may just help you clear the fog.

Note: This book was sent to me by the author for the purpose of review. I agreed to review it as non-fictional books on philosophy hold a special attraction.

Photograph: I shot this photograph of sun-beams falling on tea bushes in Ooty, early morning in January 2011.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MBA at 16

Title: MBA at 16 - A teenager's guide to the world of business
Author: Subroto Bagchi
Available on FlipKart etc

Views on the book:
It is not a book that deals with how to prepare for your CAT exam. While the title of the book is "MBA at 16", it is not about acquiring an MBA degree but rather about knowing how a business entity functions smoothly day-to-day.

It is a great book for the curious young adult, who wants to know about how a business entity is run. Aspects such as raising funds - from angel investors and from Venture Capitalists, the logistics of running a business - including the intricacies of supply-chain management, the difference between the marketing and sales department, the need for advertising and the values of true leadership and much much more, are all brought out in this book.

What is more, all this is explained through the eyes of 16 year olds of Urban India. The author conducted workshops with select students from the National Public School, in Bangalore and discovered what they really wanted to know about business. Each student is portrayed in the book as a character even as the situations, contexts and conversations are fictional. Together with these characters are Cyber the dog (my favourite) and imaginary characters such as Fly High (the angel investor) and Polar (the VC) who appear in a dream and explain the concepts of raising funds.

I recall I always spoke to my dog and wished he could talk back to me. Actually, through his expressions, I always knew what he wanted to convey. Well, Cyber actually talks to his 'human sibling' Akshay and gives a discourse on supply-chain management. Without a talking dog, this chapter would have been so dull and drab.

The author has ensured that complex issues are explained in a simple manner. For example, the inventory flow is explained through the supplies in a mother's kitchen.

Today with scams breaking around us, youngsters are doing a rethink about the entire concept of capitalism. Recently at a seminar, a student told me: "I believe in ethical capitalism". I could not agree more.

The book culminates with a debate by students on: "Is Business Good for the World?" To find out what happens, read the book.

I also came across a very interesting review by Rishi Raj Gupta who does interact with students. You may like to read this review also.

Disclaimer: I do know the author. However, I have ensured that this post is fair and unbiased.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Secrets of a Summer VIllage

Title of the Book: Secrets of a Summer Village
Author's page on GoodReads: Saskia E. Akyil
Author's Blog:Writing in my head
Available on Amazon and FlipKart etc and as a Kindle edition

Other details:
ISBN: 1463740115
ISBN-13: 9781463740115, 978-1463740115
Publisher: Createspace
Number of Pages: 302

I love travel related books and once I missed an offsite to Turkey. This enchanting country has managed to embrace the old and new, its baazars in snaking lanes and bylanes co-exist with modern structures and air-conditioned malls, people are broadminded and yet value their ancient heritage. The next best thing to actually traveling to Turkey was to pick up this book and see it through Rachael's eyes.

The book description gripped me: "When she doesn’t get a place in a Mexican study abroad program, U. S based Rachel anticipates another summer behind the counter of a coffee shop until an unexpected opportunity to spend a month with a family in Turkey drastically changes the course of her summer. This intercultural coming-of-age novel is full of exotic tastes, summer heat, promises, and love. In a summer village on the western coast of Turkey, you’ll meet Rachel, who doesn’t know what she wants; Aylin, who doesn’t know if she wants the one who wants her; and Leyla, who knows who she wants, but doesn’t know if she’ll get him. Love and romance are secret pleasures in the summer village, which only make them more exciting. Can coffee grounds tell your future? Will fate bring you to your soul mate thousands of miles from home? Would the evil eye dare stop two souls on their paths to each other? Travel with Rachel on her journey far from the comforts of home, to a place that will captivate her and leave her changed forever."

Another aspect that immediately caught my eye was the beautiful cover. With the book in my hand, I now realise that it is a quill design. It provided just the right touch for a book that is as refreshing to read as the sea breeze on a summer day.

My views:
This book is so descriptive that I could actually feel the warmth of the Turkish host family, smell the salty sea breeze of the Aagean sea, hear the laughter of Rachel and her host sister Aylin and their family and friends and my taste buds tingled whenever the family had their delicious meals together.

Typically, nations where the majority of the population comprises of Muslims gets typecast as Arab nations. This was brought out in the book. In fact, when Rachel was offered the opportunity to visit Turkey on a student exchange program, she even wondered whether she would have to wear a veil and her mother wondered whether in this 'Middle Eastern' country, a young American girl would even be allowed to step out. Fortunately, the school counsellor and a lot of googling and reliance on good old Wikipedia and of course the Atlas (Turkey is near Greece) sorted out these misconceptions. The emails from the host sister, saying that she watches American TV serials and "We wear clothes much the same as you", further helped matters. Did you know the Turkish language uses English alphabets, I didn't till I read this book.

Yes, there was a freedom to wear what you wanted, except that while Rachel at home lounged about in track pants and sweat shirts, in Turkey, these clothes would only ensure that you looked unkempt! Rachel learnt a lot more than just learning how to wear make-up.

During her stay, Leyla, the elder sister in the host family had to get married in a rush, because her fiancee had to take up a job in Japan. Unlike the US the marriage was a huge affair with personal invitations (and not postal) to be sent to friends and relatives. The henna ceremony was so different from the bridal showers witnessed in most parts of the Western world, which is being increasingly adopted across the world.

Rachel learnt much more than just Turkish culture, she learnt about true friendship, how to make the right decisions (a value her father had instilled in her) and also experienced love for the first time (which hopefully will lead to a lasting relationship, at least the reading of the coffee beans predict this).

It is an amazing read. I love travel books and reading about other cultures and the author has portrayed the Turkish culture so well. Perhaps this is because having married a Turk, she knows this culture and the warmth that Turkish families share.

As an added bonanza to an excellent story, each chapter began with a Rumi prose, which gels well with the content of each chapter.

My favourite prose is:
And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? - Rumi

I reached out to Saskia E. Akyil with a few questions.

What was the inspiration behind the book?

My husband, who is Turkish, has a habit of repeatedly telling me the stories of his youth, particularly the ones from his summer village community. When we visit Turkey now, we usually spend a lot of time at this same summer village. I thought it would be a great subject for a young adult book. I envisioned readers going on a mental vacation to a summer village and adolescence, where you don't have too much to worry about. I began writing the book when I was caring for my two-year-old and a newborn sons, and my parents were divorcing. I needed an escape where I had few responsibilities, and writing this book became that escape. Even though the book is officially classified as a young adult book, just as many adults as young adults have enjoyed it.

Turkey is a unique destination, why did you choose this as the setting in the book?

As I've already mentioned, my husband is from Turkey and we spend a lot of holiday time there. But that's not the only reason. Turkey barely exists in the imaginations of Americans and many others, and yet it is the home of many ancient cultures, and modern Turkey grew out of the great, powerful Ottoman Empire. Turkish culture is a mix of many cultures - Turkic tribes originally came from central Asia, they eventually embraced Islam, and also mixed with Europeans in Anatolia. Anatolia, the land that is now Turkey, is the historic home of many great cultures including Assyrians, Hittites, and ancient Greeks. The earliest historical records from the area date back to the 24th century BC. The area has a history of change, as does Turkish culture and Turkish people, and Turkey is currently going through massive cultural changes again. And yet what do Americans know of Turkish culture? What do Indians know of Turkish culture? Very little. Much of the dialogue we hear regarding Turkey now is about whether or not there was an Armenian genocide. Whether or not Turkey should be accepted into the E.U.. Whether or not women should be allowed to wear headscarves at school. There is plenty written about those topics. I wanted to write something that was not about any of that. I wanted to write about the Turkey that I experienced.

What's next?

I'm currently working on an audiobook of Secrets of a Summer Village, which will hopefully be available on Audible once it's done. I'm also working on a sequel, as well as a completely different book, the topic of which is still enough up in the air that I can't really summarize it yet.

Thank you Saskia for the book and for the interview.

Source of the photograph: Whirling Dervish available on a Flickr site under the Creative Common License.

You can also watch this dance of worship performed by Whirling Dervish on YouTube:The ritual of the Mevlevi sect, known as the Sema, is a serious religious ritual performed in a prayer trance to Allah.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chess is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques that Work

Title of the book: Chess is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques that Work
Authored by: Laura Sherman and Bill Kilpatrick
Other details:
• Hardcover: 304 pages
• Publisher: Mongoose Press
• ISBN-10: 193627731X
• ISBN-13: 978-1936277315

Available on Amazon and FlipKart etc...

You can find Laura’s articles here. Her website is here.

Recommended: Yes, it will help parents to coach their kids of any age. It contains well researched steps on how to coach a child and will be suitable not only to develop initial interest in chess, but will also help coach children who are already playing chess to sharpen their skills. The plus point, even a parent who has no prior knowledge of chess, can pick up this book and begin to coach.

Whether or not, chess originated in India, it has definitely shot into popularity again, thanks largely to Anand Viswanathan, our very own grandmaster.

Kids found a new idol, someone who was not a cricketer or a Bollywood star. Egged on by eager parents, many jumped ‘on-board’, several survived, yet many others lost interest. Most parents were found saying: “Wish we knew how to play chess so that we could coach and motivate our child.”

Help is at hand. Laura Sherman, who was once one of the top 50 women chess players in the United States and a Mum, who taught her son how to play chess when he was as young as four, soon to be joined by his two year old sibling, has co-authored a book with Bill Kilpatrick: Chess is Child’s Play – Teaching Techniques that Work.

Co-author Bill Kilpatrick is a serial entrepreneur and among his various diverse interests chess coaching is one of them. At high school, he coached his own team and they swiftly rose from being the underdogs to winning the Florida State, and Southeastern US Championships.

The technique of teaching chess has been perfected by both authors over the years, and any parent, who doesn’t even have any prior knowledge of chess, can pick up this book and begin to coach his or her child.

Instructions have been provided in a step by step manner. Yes, children are apt to fidget and be fussy about sitting before a chess board; this is where the book comes in. It will teach any parent or grand-parent how to make chess more interesting and have their child or grandchild hankering for yet another lesson.
There is perhaps no better way to bond, than a game of chess.

Laura has put into words what she has actually done. In addition to teaching her own kids how to play chess, she and her husband started their own chess coaching business a few years ago, where they have partnered with a few local schools in the US and are teaching kids of all ages.

She is truly passionate about chess. Her own foray into chess began at the age of nine. Laura says: “My father taught me to play chess when I was nine. He was a postal chess player, with chess boards set up all around the living room. He’d wait for weeks, sometimes months for a move to arrive from Russia. It was exciting to me and I wanted to learn. I remember the night that I beat him. It was a thrill. The next day he suggested that I take lessons from a Russian master, so that really began my adventure”.

Since I was much intrigued by this book, I decided to reach out to Laura.

Laura Sherman, agreed to participate in an e-mail interview, to tell us more about chess and this book.

1)Children lead a very hectic schedule these days, they are forever attending some coaching class or the other and are cooped indoors. With the little time they have parents may prefer their opting for an outdoor sport, thus why do you think chess is important?

I think it is important to encourage your child to do many different kinds of extra-curricular activities. I would never promote chess over football, music or oil painting, but would strongly suggest providing opportunities for all activities.

When I began teaching my son, I would bring the chess set outdoors with me. We live near the ocean and so I would take him for a good vigorous swim before our lessons. Our lessons were always fun and he made quick progress.

2)At what age can a child be introduced to Chess? Is there any optimum age for introduction to chess?

Children can begin learning some aspect of the game at any age. By the time they are four they are usually ready to learn the entire game. However every child is different and it is important not to push chess on a child who isn’t ready.

Some children learn before they are two and some learn when they are much older. In Chess Is Child’s Play I propose to gently try to teach a child and if it doesn’t take, wait and try again in a few months.

3)What advice would you give to parents who are intimidated by chess and yet want to have a role to play in coaching their kids?

Bill Kilpatrick and I wrote Chess Is Child’s Play considering the parent who might be intimidated by chess. We designed the book to teach the parent while teaching them to teach their child. Someone who is expert in chess will still receive many tips on how to teach a young child, but the parent who is new to the game will learn how to play.

I find that most people want to learn chess, but feel they must be a genius to learn. This isn’t true. The fact is the chess creates geniuses!

Just this morning, as I was writing my answers to you, I received this email from a mother in NY. "Your book transformed me. For 41 years I was afraid to learn chess, and in reading and learning from your book, I was able to teach myself AND my 5-year old son. We play all the time, our brains are working and I am proud to finally understand this refined and incredible game. THANK YOU for your incredibly accessible, fun, and super-practical instruction." She, and the million other moms and dads like her are why Bill and I wrote this book. Anyone can learn to play chess!

4)Do you think it is best that each child is coached solo or should siblings be coached together?

That’s a good question! We do address this in the book. The answer is simply that it depends on the children. Some children do well together, while others do not. It is important to make sure that if one child is moving faster than the other, the faster one receives additional lessons, so that they aren’t penalized for moving quickly.

Another idea is to have two older children possibly teach each other to play, using the exercises together to learn.

5)What makes your book different from other books dealing with ‘how to play chess?’

There are a few books that parents can give to a child to help them learn to play child. Chess Is Child’s Play is different. We teach the teacher to teach! The book is not designed to hand over to a child, but rather is structured to give the parent a complete guide to teach the fundamentals of chess to their children. It turns the parent into a chess coach!

We also wanted to make sure the parent could learn along with their child. For that reason we really broke down all the basics into baby steps. For instance, many people wouldn’t consider that a young child needs to learn how to physically take one piece with another. How do you do so with proper form? We go over that, giving the parent exact instructions on this point. This might seem like a minor point, but believe me, getting this grooved in properly from that start is important!

In addition we firmly believe that real life analogies are key to helping a child understand the lessons. The more you can relate the concepts of chess to life, the easier it will be for the child to apply them to the game. And then, as they learn the lessons over the board, the children will apply the principles to their lives.

6)Any plans of an e-book or audio book?

Yes, we do plan to create an e-book down the line. It is a bit challenging as there are a lot of graphic pieces to this book, which are instrumental to its structure and style. We don’t want these to get lost in an e-book format.

What are you waiting for? Go on, get this book. It is perfect for the summer holidays and beyond.

Source of the photograph, downloaded from Flickr and used as per the terms of the Creative Commons License

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Devotion of Suspect X

Title: The Devotion of Suspect X

Author: Keigo Higashino

Most murder mystery stories provide clues and you have to decipher: Who did it. Most often than not, towards the end of the book you are able to guess correctly who the murderer was. On occasions you are left gasping at the turn of events -- if you had guessed incorrectly! Well, The Devotion of Suspect X is very different. You learn in the first few pages it-self that Yasuko aided by her daughter kills her ex-husband, Togashi. Well, then, how does this book become a page turner?

It does so by leaving you pondering whether Yasuko will be caught. Yasuko is working in a bento box (Japanese lunch box shop) and is raising her teenage daughter Misato single handidly. Her ex-husband, who is a good for nothing guy, returns one day, wanting to get back together and of course he wants money. He threatens to harm their daughter, if Yasuko does not agree.

Things turn for the worse and the mother and daughter duo murder him. Their next door neighbour Ishigami, who is also a mathematics teacher (read he is a great strategist) comes to their aid. This knight-in-shining armour assures them that they will avoid prosecution and punishment, when the police begin to investigate, provided they do exactly as his says.

Yes, like any other mystery novel there is a police detective thrown in,who in turn gets so perplexed that he consults his friend a physicist called Yukawa. Both Yukawa and Ishigami who were once classmates are now pitted against each other. The battle of wits begins and it is this that makes the book so interesting.

Ishigami is busy creating smoke screens and trying to lead the investigation into an unsolvable maze, whereas Yukawa is busy trying to see through such ploys. Predictably, as the warring parties (if one may use this term) are a mathematician and a physicist, a lot of philosophy and mathematical proofs are thrown in the book.

I think it is the first murder mystery that I’ve read wherein I knew who the murderer was and at the same time continued to turn the pages to know whether or not Yasuko would be caught. I could emphase with her, after all, the murder was more to protect her daughter from harm than anything else.

While I will not provide a spoiler and say what happens in the end, it is a gripping novel. I loved the story line. I only wish it had made for a tad more enjoyable reading as the narration at times appears to be quite dry. I guess, this happens in case of any translation and this book has been translated from Japanese.

As Wikipedia states, The Devotion of Suspect X has won many awards in Japan. It is the third book in the Detective Galileo series penned by Japanese author Keigo Higashinio. With its English translation, it seems to be increasing in popularity world over.

I would recommend this book, just because, it is so very different from the run of the mill murder mystery novels and is rich in content and strategies.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Source of the photograph, which is used as per terms of the Creative Common License.

Available on FlipKart

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Duffy Barkley is not a dog

Book: Duffy Barkley is not a dog
Author: Dixie Goode
Price on Amazon, at the time of uploading this post: USD 12.99

Recommended: Yes. This book is meant for middle graders, those in the age group of 10-14. However, even older children and adults can read it and appreciate it. I would recommend this book, because not only does it deal with Duffy, who bravely faces the challenges this cruel world has on offer and learns to stand on his own feet (literally speaking), but it also weaves in issues facing all children today or even adults in the work place, such as bullying or even violence. The message this book sends is one of understanding. It is essential to understand why your adversary is behaving in a particular manner and to win him over with kindness and love. The book is well written and draws you in. It is filled with characters of various kinds and the 'Duffy Character List' provided at the end of the book is really useful.

To begin with I did not like the cover page and perhaps this cover page will detract potential buyers (however, we must learn not to judge a book by its cover). Perhaps this cover is an illustration that Duffy could well have drawn showing his friendship with the helpful bouncing fur bundles, the Oorah creatures.

While this book has been written for middle graders, I also loved reading it as well. After all, at times, we all go through the phase when we feel helpless. Duffy's stories will make us re-think, help us reach out to others, draw on our own inner strength and face the challenges ahead with a smile.

As the author of the series, Dixie Goode explains: My favorite protagonist is a young boy with Cerebral Palsy. Duffy Barkley walks on four legs, the kids tease, because he uses crutches. There are many things Duffy has to work extra hard to accomplish, but no-one can tell him "No!" He doesn't take No for an answer.

I actually won this book in a St Patrick's' Day giveaway hosted on Writer's Block Party. But, I had to wait anxiously for several weeks, for the book to reach me all the way here in India.

Duffy, is tired of being taunted in the cruel world. Being afflicted with cerebral palsy since birth, he is always the outsider and can never fit in. To make matters worse, Skull - the class-bully takes special pleasure in tormenting him. Duffy continues to retreat deeper and deeper into his inner shell. It is his younger sister Izzy, who alone relates to him and is proud of him. Alas, one day matters get out of hand and the school-bully who is facing his own ghosts brings a gun to school and Izzy is injured, almost fatally.
For the first time ever, Duffy is scared and wracked with guilt. Guilt, at being unable to save his baby sister. He is packed off to Aunty Peg’s house as his parents stand watch over Izzy battling for life in the hospital. It is here that the ‘magic’ begins and miracles happen.

Duffy falls headlong into a parallel Universe where the Tree of Life grows. He meets fascinating creatures and befriends them. He learns of the ancient Sea Turtle who loved creating new life and understood well the importance of balance. He meets the children of the ancient Sea Turtle, which include the great wise Ivor – the flying Tiger (The white tiger with wings).

Duffy learns about the dreaded Smelter. Smelter was once an outcast because he possessed certain unique gifts, he was shunned. This aloofness and loneliness led him to walk on the path of evil = which he thought was the right path. After all free choice which has been bestowed upon us, including the human race, gives us the option to choose good or evil.

Smelter decides that no one will be different. He steals children from across the worlds, all of them are barricaded in his school and forced to learn one single language, one single culture. Landscapes are redrawn to look alike. In other words, individuality of any kind is no longer tolerated. Families are torn apart and lands are destroyed.
It is up to Duffy to stand up to Smelter and to rescue the Sea Princess - Sea-Bee and also rescue his sister, will he do it? The biggest challenge is that he has to use the power of understanding and kindness and win Smelter over.
To begin with he runs away from the Oorah’s (they look like a cross between lions and monkeys and can roll themselves up and bounce merrily) who tell him about a prophecy, that he alone can help rescue the Sea Princess. He thinks that as he is crippled and weak he cannot do this. Yet, slowly he realises that he is not alone and is able to take on the challenge.

It is not just the Oorah’s who help him, but also Tricky the Centricorn (an offspring of a Unicorn and Centaur), Flowstones – living micro-organisms play a much more important role than providing him with clothing, and of course Ivor and the other offspring of the ancient Sea Turtle are there together with many many other unique creatures found in this parallel Universe. Yet, while Duffy has helpers, the final choice for any course of action is always his and he has to draw into his inner strength and courage along the journey and make decisions, including that decision which will perhaps win Smelter over.
Sacrifices are made for him and he also learns the meaning of true sacrifice, of understanding and of love.
There are some messages in this book, which I will remember for a long time to come.

When Duffy first meets Ivor, Ivor slashes Duffy’s chest (Don’t worry, there is a reason for it and it heals immediately). Ivor tells him: The gift of understanding is often brought at the cost of more pain than this has required.

Myskva, protector of the singing trees of Belle Island tells Duffy: Only by holding on to the ability to trust and love, to believe in goodness will you ever make miracles happen.

While our religious leaders have always taught us this lesson, it was once again reinforced by Ivor: Remember that an act of hatred belittles the one who acts it out, but not the one it is done against unless that person allows it to.

Throughout this book you find yourself rooting hard for Duffy and his friends and at the same time are able to comprehend why Smelter is acting the way he is.