On Fire by Naomi Klein, review

Facing the world climate crisis, social activist Naomi Klein’s ‘On Fire’ builds a case for a new world order under the Green New Deal.

Imagine living in a world with abundant clean energy, jobs, and resources for everyone, instead of destructive weather and fossil fuel and mineral extraction. Imagine living in a world offering dignity, liberty, and justice no matter your race, gender, class, religion, abilities or birthplace.

In her new book, “On Fire: The (Burning) Case for the New Deal, Klein explains how the Green New Deal (GND) could do both. Making the connection between the exploitation of nature and humans is an opportunity to solve many challenges at once. Climate scientists now urge replacing failed, obsolete economic policies that waste and pollute our natural resources. Current policies harm human lives in many ways, from creating wage stagnation, which leads to gaping inequalities, to crumbling government services. Green New Deal policy changes, however, will likely add momentum to a surging right-wing backlash.

What exactly is this Green New Deal? In “On Fire,” Klein explains a vision for social and economic transformation to reduce carbon emissions, pollution, and waste of resources while converting to clean energy. This would create more meaningful, well-paying, low-carbon jobs.  This would meet more of our basic needs, including education, health, homes, and transit. By changing how we live, grow our food, work and move around, we could improve our quality of life and reduce waste.

How could we win this GND? In her chapter, “When Science Says that Political Revolution is Our Only Hope,” Klein reveals that our current economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability, prioritizing gross domestic products (GDP) growth above all else. It disregards human or ecological consequences. Many scientists have been moved by their research to advocate action, lead marches and even get arrested for resisting pipelines, coal mines, and fossil fuel investments.

In a sample commencement speech, Klein exhorted new college graduates to “Stop trying to save the world all by yourself,” warning that no single career or lifestyle choice would suffice. We can only meet this tremendous challenge together as part of massive local and global multi-issue, multi-generational and multi-identity movements.

As in prior books, Klein writes with the clear, concise style of a professional journalist. She adds her personal stories, such as meeting with Pope Francis, Swedish global-warming activist Greta Thunberg and other world leaders; she shares a story of her own family suffering through a summer of sunshine lost to wildfire smoke. For those who critique the limited specifics of the GND, she would reply that the precise details will be up to each sector, institution, city, state, and nation.

One can hope future books will elaborate on how to pay for the GND transition. Klein briefly mentions reducing military spending. As the largest part of the U.S. discretionary budget, redefining national security to reallocate funds from “weapons to windmills” would yield trillions while also reducing the carbon footprint of war and weapons.

The most awesome books for gaming fans (part 1)

Whether it’s battling otherworldly aliens, embarking on a heroic quest, or hacking into mainframes, these awesome books are the perfect companions to some of your favorite computer games. Now, time to put down the controller…

Only You Can Save
Mankind, Terry Pratchett

The book follows Johnny Maxwell, a normal boy with the most ordinary life. He loves video games, but one day, after receiving a mysterious message from the last remaining alien spaceship in the game he’s playing, his life drastically changes. Johnny becomes humanity’s last hope and finds himself the hero of the story that helps an alien race. Only You Can Save Mankind is a thrilling adventure you’ll never want to end. 

My Magical Life,
written by Zach King

My Magical Life follows the weird and wonderful life of Zach, a boy who’s capable of doing magic (without a wand). Everyone wants to know how he does his tricks but mean girl Tricia wants to bring him down. The book comes with a super-cool app that brings the book and characters to life through awesome augmented reality. Tech fans will love scanning and tapping to interact with the characters that appear on the pages. Be sure to collect all the trophies!

Super Mario Official
Sticker Book

A legend in his own right, Mario and pals are a firm fave of all ages. And now he’s back, in sticker form! This awesome activity book features hundreds of stickers so that you can stick Mario and all of your fave characters’ faces onto your computer, notebooks, phone, and anywhere else that takes your fancy! You will love solving all the puzzles with this plumbing duo and their famous friends.

Hacker by Malorie

Vicky is the best hacker in the world and when her father is
arrested after being accused of stealing money from the bank he works at, she
uses her hacking skills to prove his innocence. She attempts to break into the
bank’s computer files… but will she be able to find the real thief before she
gets caught? This is a fantastic read for those with a passion for coding.

‘Through the Needle’s Eye’, review

In her first novel Through the Needle’s Eye, Linda Bledsoe provides a grim look into the dark side of the southern Appalachians’ life. It tells the story of Jessie, the oldest child in a poor family in the southern Virginia hills in the late 1950s.

The family has much more things to deal with than lack
of means. The father,
alcoholic with a violent temper, is horribly abusive, and the mother is unable
or even unwilling
to help herself and her children. Jessie and her younger brother and sister endure things that no child should, and they also see things that no child should see.

The children are always deprived: of a stable home, enough
food, decent clothes and toys, but also love, care, attention, and emotional support.

From the very beginning, we all understand that Jessie’s plight is
especially dire. Scarred by an accident, Jessie is considered worthless by
everyone, including her parents. As
the oldest child in the family, she is often called upon – or takes it upon herself – to take on responsibility beyond
her years.

The one good thing in her existence is Granny Isabelle, having lived through more than her own
share of hard times. Granny Isabelle sees something in Jessie that no one else takes time to
notice and tries to inspire her to believe that she can rise above. The Bible
informs much of Granny Isabelle’s advice and beliefs; the title of the novel refers to the eye
of the needle, and she tries to convince Jessie that she can make it through.

Without a doubt, Linda Bledsoe makes the desperate lives of children like Jessie horribly real. Therefore, we feel her terror, anger, and confusion when she watches her father beat her mother or waits for the blows that she knows are coming her way. Jessie and her siblings wet themselves so often that the story itself seems soaked in urine and snot at times.

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi

An award-winning novel raises a lot of expectations, not only on its substance and style but also on its linguistic strength in connecting the readers with the imagined world of possible realities. In final, what count are the lingering thoughts the prose leaves the readers to keep on grappling with in solitude. Celestial Bodies, the first Omani novel to win the Man Booker prize, ticks all the boxes on being alluring, irresistible, and imaginative at the same time.

First published as Sayyidat al-qamar, the novel written by academic Jokha Alharthi traces an Omani family journey over 3 generations, through the twists and travails in a country emerging as a 1960s oil-rich Gulf state but was the last to abolish slavery in 1970. Crafted on a historical canvas carefully, it prisms the lived experience of three sisters when they swim through changing times which opens life in an Omani village to the world.

were surprises throughout
American historian Marilyn Booth, who translated the book into English and shared the prize.
What attracted Marilyn Booth to translate Alharthi was the absence of
stereotypes in her analysis of race, gender, and social distinction. Alharthi weaves individual
stories through a distinct but engaging and intricate narrative; meanwhile, the third-person account deals
with the person on
whom the chapter is named, the first-person reflections are by Abdallah, the lone voice in the world
of a
man who happens to be the husband of
the eldest sister.

in the Omani village of al-Awafi,
Bodies follows the stories of three sisters: Mayya, laying immersed in her sewing machine but
getting married
into a rich family after a heartbreak; Asma, at peace with her books and getting married
duty; and Khawla, having
spent the better part of her
with her mirror and having waited
to marry a man who had emigrated to Canada. Each has a share in the complicated relationships
in a domestic drama connecting
the ‘past’ with the ‘future’ through the ‘present’. 
It is the subtle artistry of the author which allows the characters to retain their
individuality meanwhile
remaining part of a home that has externalities of influences
at work all the time, shedding
light on travesties of life in Oman.

Best children’s books about football

Does your kid prefer kicking a ball to picking up a
book? Make them excited about reading with books about the beautiful game, from
brilliant football fiction for all ages and step-by-step technique manuals to World
Cup histories.

Story of the World Cup

Best children’s books about football

The Story of the World Cup is a fact-packed book with two hundred countries taking part in, three stolen trophies, and a heroic dog called Pickles. It is beautifully illustrated in Richard Brassey’s clear and accessible style. Expect an expert running commentary about golden boots, Cup records, and greatest players to accompany all match-watching after it has been read!

Football Skills

50 Football Skills is a practical manual of tips and techniques, covering all areas of the game, from the basics of defending and attacking to the complexities of obeying the offside rule and making a perfect corner kick. This book is guaranteed to be studied obsessively. Moreover, it is pocket-sized for easy access at the park or on the pitch.

Bonkers: and the Wacky World Cup! by Giles Andreae

Billy Bonkers: and the Wacky World Cup! includes three funny football stories and has the perfect length for newly independent readers to read alone. Billy Bonkers is a great wacky hero for KS1 soccer devotees as landing a plane and flying through the air in a hot-air balloon to the World Cup final.

Joke Book by Clive Gifford

Arm your kid with a huge selection of good, clean
football jokes. The puns, visual gags, one-liners, and plays on words will
ensure that they are expanding their vocabulary with all relevant lingoes!

by Laurence Anholt

A football-retelling of Cinderella, this story is great to read aloud and will be appreciated by KS1 readers. Cinders clean up after his nasty stepdad and ugly brothers and have no hope of going to the cup final… until he is invited to play!

things to make and do

Keep football fans entertained with some hands-on
craft projects. Make a flicking football game, a 3D penalty shoot-out and a
league table with slot-in football shirts, all from everyday household items.
Each activity is clearly illustrated with step-by-step instructions, so minimal
supervision is re vvv][p0

Bringing Down the House: a blackjack playing guidebook

are several books written on playing Blackjack, but one of the phenomenal book
written so far that gives great inspiration to Casino lovers is “Bringing Down
the House.” Penned down by Ben Mezrich the book narrates the story of a group
of MIT Card Counters, famously known by the name the MIT Blackjack Team. The
book is a series of events that took place when this team played several games
of Blackjack and came out winning. The story is so inspiring that there were
two movies made on the story, namely 21 & The Last Casino.

of the Book:

MIT Blackjack team had great casino players the top players of which were Jason
Fisher and Andre Martinez. In 1993, Jason Fisher and Andre Martinez invited
another MIT graduate Kevin Lewis in the team. Lewis is the main character of
the book. The financer of the team was a colorful character, Micky Rosa. The
team played with unity; however, later, there were card counting deterrent
efforts as well as personality conflicts which caused the MIT Blackjack Team

book is labeled as a non-fiction book, but there are claims that it is not. The
Boston Globe, a famous American daily newspaper, however, claimed that the book
contains several fictional elements.

of Bringing Down The House:

book was claimed as fictional several times. Famous magazines and newspapers
like Boston Magazine and The Boston Globe were the first to run articles
claiming that the book has fictional element at significant places. It was
claimed that the author, Ben Mezrich, not only made up some events but
exaggerated at a number of places leading to a fictional story.

book also had several historical inaccuracies, for example, the underground
Chinatown Casino which in reality was never there. Also, the book showed that
strippers were used to Cash Out Chips, which is again not true.

are several scenes in the book that show that the players indulged in physical
assault, but again there are no records of any such event happening in real

it may be, the book had some great learnings for the casino aspirants. A
reading of the book offers great insights into the
rules of blackjack

and help people improvise their games. There may be many
controversies related to the book, but in all, it gained a lot of popularity
and still is referred by many casino lovers.

“Reflection: A Twisted Tale” by Elizabeth Lim, review

Reflection: A Twisted Tale is one of the novels in the Twisted Tales series. When being written, the series includes seven titles that was published over the past 4 years, with the seventh being newly released this summer and the eighth due in early 2020. Each book of the series is stand-alone, which means you can read whichever stories that intrigue you the most in whichever order that you feel like.

If you are
unfamiliar with the series, each novel provides a spin on a Disney classic,
twisting the tales we know clearly and discovering how the characters would
react should be an element of their story go astray. The twist takes place at
this point where Mulan defeats the Huns after causing an avalanche on the
mountain. In the midst of the commotion, Captain Li Shang is wounded mortally.
Mulan has to travel to the underworld, under the reign of King Yama, in order to
rescue Shang and bring him back to China.

Reflection was written by Elizabeth Lim while the other novels of the series were written by Jen Calonita and Liz Braswell. However, as with the past installments in the Twisted Tales series, this novel is jam-packed with adventure, with Elizabeth Lim’s descriptive style perfectly weaving Chinese underworld and cultural mythology into Mulan’s established character lines. The result really is a beautiful read.  Surely, Mulan is our powerful protagonist, along with Captain Shang by her side throughout. Mushu, who is everyone’s favourite dragon, also has a brief appearance, but disappointingly does not present throughout most of the novel. Instead, we will be joined by the great lion ShiShi – the captain’s family guardian. Although nowhere near as sassy or scrawny as Mushu, the lion ShiShi serves as a lovable and wise guide through the underworld, which doesn’t sound like the place where you would want to travel alone, even if you are a coursing river. Similarly to Once Upon a Dream, the adventure narrative follows our heroes on a long journey through countless action scenes, with bandit ghosts and demons, family ancestors to battle along way through the levels of King Yama’s realm.

The Good Thieves by Katherine Rundell, Review

The writing of Katherine Rundell is magic. Each of her books is filled with such whimsy and charming characters and The Good Thieves is no exception.

The book is set in New York City in the ’1920s. A writer’s note mentions the real phenomenon of a Carnegie Hall’s circus, which is the backdrop for the story and adds a fantastic and enchanting setting. Then the story winds around the streets of ’1920s New York City in all its gilt-edged glory, when Vita and her ragtag group of friends plan a heist to steal her grandfather’s precious emerald necklace, which is the key to hiring a lawyer and fighting for the castle of her grandfather, put together piece by piece from the Hudson Valley, and snatched by a conniving real estate developer with ties to the mob.

Vita is
brave and cunning with her love for her grandfather as well as her hatred for
evil men such as Sorrotore, who takes advantage of the less fortunate for their
greedy personal gain. She is the “just-in-case,” because of her ability to
throw with expert precision, a skill that her grandfather taught her as she was
bedridden with polio as a child, a sickness which claimed the full use of one
of her feet.

The circus
boys, Sam and Arkady, are both virtuosos. Arkady has an uncanny way with
animals. He can train the birds of New York and horses and dogs that he just
met while Sam can fly. Their acrobatic skills are unbelievable and will help
the group get over the high walls of the castle.

The team is rounded out by Silk, an unwilling thief, who wants to live a normal life. She was an orphan and lived off the streets, pickpocketing into glamorous parties like the ones Sorrotore throws, a servant, when Vita met her. She turns Vita down, preferring to work alone and avoid getting caught with a team of unknown kids. However, her lock-pick skill is unparalleled so eventually, she joins the team.

Top 8 Casino Based Books (part 2)

5. The Battle for Las Vegas, written by Dennis Griffin

During the 1970s and 1980s, Vegas was a battleground between law and organized crime. The Battle for Las Vegas focuses not just on the big names of the time such as “The Ant” Spilotro and Frank “Lefty” Rosenthal but also on the key law enforcement figures helping to bring down the mob rule of the biggest casinos. It’s argued to be a more rounded approach to the subject than the book Casino: Love and Honor in Las Vegas.

6. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less, written by
Jeffery Archer

Four people that
lost their fortune to the same man, come together to claim it all back. Although
it focuses on several elements of high society in their attempts to con the con
artist, the story takes the four men to Monte Carlo as part of their game to
outwit the person that defrauded them. It provides readers an interesting
insight into the glitz of Monaco with lavish seafront casinos and nightlife.

7. The Biggest Game in Town, written by Al Alvarez

The Biggest Game in Town is considered as the most important book ever written about game poker. The book deeply examines the poker tables in Las Vegas. Alvarez, an avid poker player, traveled to Vegas to study The World Series of Poker – the most famous tournament in the game. There are also biographies of some famous players and an unprecedented view of the modern game.

8. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King,
written by Michael Craig

The people that play in casinos are often as interesting as the casinos themselves. The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King is Andrew Beal’s biography as well as his challenge of high stakes poker games in Vegas, particularly about his years-long challenge to a group of celebrated players called “The Corporation”. The book adds all the tension of a casino game meanwhile delving into the world of the nail-biting game of poker.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, review

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll, was published in 1865 and has been loved by British children since then. The story with fantastical tales and riddles became one of the most famous works of English-language fiction. It was beautifully illustrated by British artist John Tenniel.

The story’s major character is Alice, a young girl that
falls asleep in a meadow, dreaming that she follows the White Rabbit down a
rabbit hole. She has a lot of wondrous, often bizarre adventures with very illogical
and strange creatures, often unexpectedly changing size (she shrinks to 3
inches and grows as tall as a house).

She encounters the Duchess (with a baby that becomes a
pig), the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, 
and the Cheshire Cat, and also attends a strange endless tea party with the
March Hare and the Mad Hatter. Then she plays a croquet game with uncooperative
hedgehogs for croquet balls and an unmanageable flamingo for a croquet mallet when
the Queen calls for the execution of almost everyone present. Later, at the behest
of the Queen, the Gryphon takes her to meet the sobbing Mock Turtle that describes
his education in subjects like Ambition, Uglification, Distraction, and
Derision. Alice is then considered as a witness in the trial of the Knave of
Hearts, who has been accused of having stolen the tarts of the Queen. Luckily,
when the Queen demands that Alice be beheaded, she awakens from her dream after
realizing that the characters are only a pack of cards.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally told by Carroll to Alice, Edith, and Lorina Liddell (the three daughters of Henry George Liddell, Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, where Carroll had studied) on a picnic in 1862. Alice asked him to write out the stories for her, and then he produced a hand-lettered collection named Alice’s Adventures Under Ground. A guest visiting the Liddell family saw the collection and thought that it should be published, so Carroll revised and expanded it. Although the book at first baffled critics, it then attracted a following and by the end of the 19th century, it had become Britain’s most popular book for children, and within two more decades, it was one of the world’s most popular storybooks.