The Pied Piper of Digital Marketing by Simba Mudonzvo

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The Pied Piper by Simba Mudonzvo offers a startling new perspective on digital marketing. Fresh concepts in the industry are explored in a way that is both imaginative and engaging: through a series of analogies drawn between marketing and the mythical world of the Piper.

The story is told through an extensive analogy that connects the world of the Pied Piper to digital marketing, in a subtle and unique way. This merging of fiction and non-fiction was very successful, although I think that Simba could have benefited from making some of the finer points of his analogy more explicit. The book was a fun read and I was left more entertained than enlightened, although I did learn a lot along the way.

The fictionality of the short story was something that I really enjoyed. The characters are depicted in great detail, each equipped with their own witty dialogue, a personal history and a unique outlook on life. I would have liked to have seen a bit more depth from some of the characters; the Piper in particular took hold of my imagination and I would have liked to learn more about him, such as his inner thoughts and feelings.

Simba’s writing style is very self-aware and some of his metaphors are stunning, with unusual connections being drawn between the tenor and the grounds. Overall, this short story was very easy to read, although there are a few moments when the wealth of imagery became a bit oppressive, and as a reader I found it occasionally difficult to trace the plot. That said, in the few moments that were like this, I was able to enjoy the effects of the words themselves, and appreciate the apparent joy Simba takes in experimenting with sentence structure.

This is a brand-new take on digital marketing and one that employs myth in a thought-provoking way. I would recommend this short story to anyone who wants to learn more about new concepts in digital marketing, whilst at the same time, enjoying a riveting read with some great characters and a plot full of twists and turns!

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Michael Sceptre and the Deathful Chess Games by Simba Mudonzvo

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Michael Sceptre and the Deathful Chess Games is the first novel in what is shaping up to be an epic new series by author Simba Mudonzvo. The book follows the adventures of Michael, a young boy who reluctantly turns to chess to help him escape from school – a decision with far greater consequences than he could ever have imagined.

One of the things I liked most about this book was the way in which the game of chess operated on three different levels: as a small-scale game; as a tournament between two warring nations with ridiculously high stakes; and as an organising factor in an intricate, severely hierarchical social system, with people being born into factions named after chess pieces. The game of chess runs throughout the novel, uniting different characters and whirling them apart at key moments, and is responsible for much of the book’s beautiful imagery.

This book is definitely an enjoyable read. Although there are a few typos and syntactic issues, Simba’s writing style is nevertheless strikingly flamboyant. His words crackle with a mischievous energy, and some of the jokes in this book really made me chuckle.

The plot line is very imaginative and well-thought out. I love how an entire history has been plotted out with plenty of detail and on epic proportions. Think millions of angels, worlds beyond Orion’s Belt, sages, merchants, an economy that runs on gold and silver pieces and kingdoms who make great use of spies, and you’ve got a pretty good idea about the tone of this fantasy novel. The epic back-story threads through the book as a whole, subtly informing the lives of our protagonist, Michael, his brother Alexis, and some of the other young characters.

Michael himself was a joy to read about. Full of life and vigour, I found myself really beginning to root for him as he navigated his way through various misadventures. One of the central themes of the novel is a preoccupation with death: what it means, who it is applicable to, and how it is intertwined with destiny. It was interesting to see how Michael grew and developed as he learnt more about this key part of his universe.

Simba states at the start of the novel that he wants to entertain the world. I think that, with this book, he definitely makes some progress towards achieving this aim. Michael Sceptre and the Deathful Chess Game is a fun read, and one that will leave you breathless for more.

The Dog Guardian by Nigel Reed

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The Dog Guardian is a hands-on, comprehensive guide to achieving the perfect relationship with your dogs, whilst ensuring that their well-being and happiness is paramount. Nigel Reed, author and expert, demonstrates his passion for dogs from the very first page, where a heart-warming introduction details how Reed decided to take his love for animals further by pursuing a career. This book is the accumulated result of years of experience, research, and work in the field of all things canine.

Reed writes with a bouncy, straight-forward prose that is easy to comprehend, even when more complicated psychological ideas are discussed. The book is wide-reaching and all-encompassing in its discussion of all things dog-related, beginning with a brief exploration on how dogs are descended from wolves and discussing the ways in which this heritage could affect their behaviour today.

Reed also proposes new models and theories regarding the training of dogs, such as how to understand their needs in a new, hierarchical format. New insights into what motivates bad behaviour is also present in the text, with potential to really change the way we, as dog owners, guardians and lovers, interact with our furry friends. Reed’s approach is stoutly non-violent and it is clear that a love of dogs is at the very heart of this work. The guide comes with a series of videos in which Reed walks owners through some of the solutions to many common behavioural issues. These videos add some sparkle to the book, as Reed’s personal dynamism is really able to shine through as he takes the stage in a series of hands-on demonstrations.

This is a well-researched and informative book, complete with statistics and clear diagrams. Reed’s approach to the science behind being a good guardian is brilliantly balanced: easy to understand whilst at the same time providing all the necessary information. I can now say with confidence exactly why dogs need access to water throughout the day, or detail the three important things to keep in mind when attempting the perfect dog walk.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who has a dog and would like more advice and tips on how to form a healthy relationship with said canine, a relationship where the interests of the dog are central. Reed’s research is sound, his methods lucidly laid out, and all content is supported by videos that serve to elucidate the methodology. An interesting and informative read.

Death’s Conquest (Spirits, Shadows and Death 1) by Richard C. Webb

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Death’s Conquest is a heart pounding fantasy adventure with a very real cast of characters. I found that the book follows a quest-like narrative, meaning that there is danger, adventure and a good deal of fun at the heart of the book.

My favourite part of Death’s Conquest was the contrast between the fantastical elements, such as the fearsome Shadows, with their glowing red eyes and surprisingly sassy dialogue, and the more realistic sections. The novel is about the battle against a terrible and powerful enemy of mythical power and status, but also about the intricacies of politics, relationships and family life. This blending of fantasy and realism is reflected in Webb’s writing: even though this novel draws heavily on the fantasy genre and its numerous tropes, the narrative has a pleasingly mimetic surface, and one can see how the characters are grounded in the real world of inter-personal relationships, even if their surroundings are purely imaginative.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to comment here that Webb’s world-building skills are excellent. Everything in the novel was vividly realised and painted in beautiful detail. I loved all the little things, such as how the wearing of cloaks was an accepted fashion in the novel! These small facts really helped to build the world up as a whole.

Webb’s writing is also a joy to read – the action scenes in particular were very fast paced and tense, and Webb strengthens these with bursts of scattered humour. Some of the dialogue had a tendency to be a bit predictable, such as at the very beginning of the novel, when characters gave explicit details about their current situation, “this is my first time on guard duty,” and “you’ve been here two weeks.” One would assume that these details would have been known by all involved in the scene, which subtly draws attention to the story’s status as fiction. This is an interesting technique that I think Webb could have perhaps acknowledged more and gotten more mileage out of.

Overall, however, this book was a very fun read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a light fantasy adventure with some moments of darkness thrown in for good measure!

 

 

‘Fanny Fun’ by M. Cassol

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Fanny Fun is a gorgeous novel filled with laughter, sparkle and, as the title suggests, lots of intimate fun! From the very beginning it is clear that this is going to be one of those rare books that will leave you smiling long after you’ve turned the final page. The feel-good vibes are there in the unobtrusive prose, the sensual details and the happy-go-lucky characters.

This book is definitely a rollercoaster of emotions. Although the writing style can sometimes be a little repetitive, it is well-suited to the genre and contributes to the overarching theme of enduring love. The sex scenes are very well written and contribute to the overall success of the novel.

Fanny Fun is a book about exploration and finding yourself in a chaotic world. The central storylines are illuminated through a series of flashbacks that slot effortlessly into the narrative. These side stories serve to flesh out the characters and add details, insights and fresh perspectives to their present day interactions. The chapter involving Charlie’s backstory, for example, was my favourite by far. Cassol discusses gender identity in sensitive and moving way, and as a result I found this chapter quite emotionally affecting. One thing that emerges prominently from this novel is the importance of loving yourself for who you are, a message I found very uplifting.

My favourite storyline overall was the one involving Pippa and Jackie. Their tale of an instant love connection and the challenges they faced along the way instantly grabbed my attention. Pippa’s work in the field of marine biology added a new register to the novel, which heightened its overall complexity and complemented the romantic side of things. Their storyline wasn’t the only one I loved following, however – I enjoyed the way in which all of the storylines seemed to spark off of each other, creating a web of connections that only becomes clear as you progress through the book. Discovering how all of the plotlines interact is one of the pleasures of this novel, as is the realisation that love is the central theme in all of the storylines, the connecting thread that binds us all together.

Cassol’s many strengths include vivid characterisation. As a reader, I felt like I was getting to know the characters more and more with every page. This process of becoming acquainted with the characters felt a bit like getting to know a new friend. Rather than bursting fully formed from Page One, Cassol’s cast of characters grow and develop organically. One of the joys of this novel is learning more about them as they learn about themselves – a shared journey of discovery.

All in all, this is a fantastic book with lots of emotional ups and downs. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to have a bit of fun and enjoy an uplifting and entertaining read!

The Beta Male Revolution: Why Many Men Have Totally Lost Interest in Marriage in Today’s Society by Alan Roger Currie

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‘The Beta Male Revolution: Why Many Men Have Totally Lost Interest in Marriage in Today’s Society’ is the fourth and most recent audiobook release by author and dating coach Alan Roger Currie from the United States.  This title is the second audiobook by Currie that I have listened to and reviewed, and I found this one more thought-provoking than his last (CLICK HERE for my review of Currie’s other audiobook, ‘Oooooh … Say it Again: Mastering the Fine Art of Verbal Seduction and Aural Sex’).

Currie’s new book offers an explanation for the recent social trend that finds many men losing interest in marriage, and it also provides an insight into what is known as the ‘MANosphere,’ which represents a number of different blog sites and internet message boards that many single men visit who are frustrated with some aspect of their love life or sex life, and are seeking advice and wisdom from other men who possess more experience and success with women romantically and sexually.

Currie speaks with an almost hypnotic voice. It is clear that this is a book designed to have his readers thinking about the content for days after they have listened to the audiobook in its entirety.  The various anecdotes and hypothetical situations offered by Currie make this audiobook a very entertaining and enlightening listening experience.

I particularly enjoyed the Preface chapter which centres on a fictional social experiment scenario that Currie refers to as ‘Monogamy Island.’ On Monogamy Island, every man and woman must ‘couple up’ for a minimum of six months, and remain monogamous to their romantic partner to avoid consequences and penalties.  If a man or woman is caught cheating, they will be relegated to only being able to have sex with others who were caught cheating.

Currie’s Monogamy Island is a brilliant thought-provoking social experiment scenario.  Currie explains it in a very detailed and logical manner. Currie used Monogamy Island to argue convincingly that even if a society was built around the idea that everyone was obligated to remain strictly monogamous with their chosen partners, challenges would still arise for many of the couples.  The Preface chapter left me with a lot of food for thought, but also, it left me with a lot of questions I wanted to pose to Currie himself.

Currie seems to make the argument in this book that finding a man or woman who is the ‘total package’ is almost impossible for dating singles.   For example, he suggests that if a man is exceptionally good in bed, he will be hard to get along with outside the bedroom.  This is what Currie labels a ‘Total Alpha male.’  On the opposite end of the spectrum, Currie suggests that if a man is very easy to get along with outside of the bedroom, that he will most certainly end up being boring or unsatisfying in the bedroom.  This is what Currie labels a ‘Total Beta male.’

The category of men that Currie offers to his female listeners as coming close to being the ‘total package’ (both good in bed and fun to be around outside the bedroom) would be the ‘Alpha male with a few Beta traits.’  According to Currie, even this group of men have their own set of issues, mainly a high likelihood to cheat on their wives or girlfriends behind their back because of their highly in-demand popularity with women.

One final category of men Currie offers is the ‘Beta male with a few Alpha traits.’  This group of men are similar to the ‘Total Beta males,’ but they are usually more educated, have better social skills, and are usually affluent. Currie suggests that most women will only use these men as a ‘Sugar Daddy’ or financial provider, but will cheat on these men behind their back with a Total Alpha male or an Alpha male with Beta traits.

My question is, why would any man or woman get married to someone who they did not feel was the total package?  A partner and spouse that offered enjoyable companionship both in the bedroom and outside the bedroom?  If the only option I have for the total package is the cheating and adulterous Alpha male with Beta traits, then thanks … but no thanks.

Currie’s discussion of Total Alphas, Alphas with Beta traits, Betas with Alpha traits and Total Betas was quite absorbing.  Again, though it was clear that these labels are Currie’s own unique stereotypes, Currie’s descriptions of how these stereotypes function with women in our society is very useful and interesting for listeners of both genders. I felt that at times, Currie had a tendency to over-generalise men and women’s behaviour, especially in regards to the socio-economic and family backgrounds of the Total Alphas vs. the Total Betas.

For example, I disagreed with Currie’s assertions that Beta males (i.e., the nice, polite, gentlemanly types) are usually raised under the heavy influence of women. Currie even suggested that men who grow up to be criminals are usually raised by single mothers!  I would have to be shown some statistical evidence to buy into that unsubstantiated generalisation. Also, I personally disagree with the broad generalisation that all Beta males are less exciting and typically unsatisfying sexually compared to their more Alpha counterparts.

I also do not agree with Currie’s assertion that the vast majority of single, heterosexual men are guilty of only ‘pretending’ to be content with remaining ‘just friends’ with a woman with the underlying objective of hoping to gain the opportunity to have sex with her at some point in the future (what Currie refers to in his book as ‘FunClubbing’). To suggest that men are solely interested in socially interacting with women for the purposes of dating and having sex with tends to reveal an unfortunate misogynistic worldview.

Women have more to offer men than just romantic and sexual companionship alone.  As platonic friends to men, women can offer them someone to trust and confide in, someone they can laugh with, someone they can support and be supported by, and above all, someone who they can just generally enjoy spending time with without physical intimacy or sex being involved.

The notion that the vast majority of heterosexual men only befriend women with the underlying motive of having sex with those women at some point down the line is a ridiculous one. It suggests that the only thing of value that women have to offer men is the ability to please them sexually.  This, of course, is so not true! If the “vast majority” of single, heterosexual men think as Currie suggests in his book, then I fear for the world.

In addition to being enlightened about what the ‘MANosphere’ is all about, I also learned more about the infamous ‘Pickup Artist Community’ and the way men who follow this community think and behave.  I emerged from Currie’s book with more insight into these subjects and how men REALLY think than I had had previously, but also with the feeling that a lot of this insight was Currie’s own individual insight, and not necessarily insight that all men across the globe would wholeheartedly agree with (to be fair, Currie does not suggest in his book that every man on Earth maintains the exact same beliefs and opinions that he does).

In conclusion, I would recommend this audiobook.

Overall, I would say that this new book by Currie is entertaining, enlightening, and well-written. I enjoyed Currie’s frequent requests to “marinate on that a little,” and found the abundance of rhetorical questions, along with Currie’s engaging tone of voice, very absorbing.  I also believe in Currie’s primary thesis that strictly monogamous marriages are not for everyone.  I also agree with Currie’s statement that promiscuous and polyamorous sexual behaviour is not for everyone either.

My main criticism would simply be that I found quite a few of Currie’s opinions, assertions, and generalisations to be either invalid, or simply not fully substantiated by factual evidence.

Currie’s new book is available on both Amazon.co.uk and Audible.co.uk

 

Fit Kids: 7-17 Years, Edited by Robert Duffy

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This is an excellent children’s fitness book, aimed at the parents, teachers, coaches and carers who need to help children get fit, stay fit and develop a love of fitness.

The book is centred around the BX Fitness Plan, a dream scheme that tackles the obstacles of time and space. The plan recognises that not everyone (and especially not children) want to have to go to the gym everyday and use specialised equipment to stay healthy. The plan also recognises that time is a precious commodity. The BX Plan is only 11-12 minutes long and is guaranteed to improve endurance, flexibility and strength. It’s also undeniably fun, with the chance to chart progress and hit various targets!

This book is designed to complement the BX Fitness Plan by linking it closely to the school curriculum and detailing how families can get involved in their children’s fitness. The ultimate aim is ‘fit schools and fit families,’ an especially important goal considering how physical health is closely tied to mental health and life expectancy.

Chock-full of information, this book manages to be both informative and fun. A series of introductory chapters pave the way for the BX Plan itself, with ideas for incorporating exercise into the school day, fun suggestions for informal play, and tips on how to eat healthily at home.

The BX Plan itself is beautifully explained. It’s a fairly complex system, but one that is handled expertly, with tips on how to complete the programme and progress to greater fitness levels. Each exercise is also explained clearly with instructions and step-by-step diagrams, which is very helpful for parents and teachers, who can now check if a child is performing an exercise correctly. There are different charts for boys and girls, as well as different goals for each age group, making this plan extremely versatile.

This is an inspiring and motivational guide that offers a solution to the sedentary lifestyle an increasing amount of children lead. With insights into the science behind it all, such as the effects and importance of exercise, this book is a useful source of information for everyone, not just parents and teachers, but also teenagers and even adults!