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By James Minter, May 23 2018 03:40PM

For me, the holding of positive values for children and adults is essential. A set of positive values is the most significant legacy any parent can leave their child, and so I applaud any book which promotes and guides the development of values and notable in this case, kindness, respect, and trust.

Our values shape our behaviours and are especially important when we have to deal with difficult situations. Through acquiring positive values children are empowered, they can make better decisions, and are more likely to overcome the challenging issue.


My Actions Matter – A Book on Life Values by Kayla J W Marnach, is aimed both at young children and their carers. Using this book as a vehicle, teachers and carers can start a conversation with children about the issue under discussion. In addition to the illustrated story, the book features a section on behaviours and the needs the child is displaying, and further a section with open-ended question suggestions caregivers can ask children to get a discussion going.


Although the book is well presented – font choice, size and line spacing, and the illustrations are beautiful, the overuse of repetition in the narrative is too much. I know and agree that 5, 6, 7-year-olds need repetition, but in effect, there are four identical double-spread pages which are not necessary. I would have liked to see the messages given on the same pages being built upon as the book progressed.



By James Minter, May 11 2018 03:02PM


I’m a man and a husband. I appreciate this book was written tongue-in-cheek, but I hoped the Diary of A Stressed Out Mother would provide me with some insights into women and especially mothers and wives. It didn’t but instead confirmed what I always suspected we, that is men, and women, mothers, and wives are very different creatures when it comes to dealing with the home, work, children, family, friends, pets, and neighbours.


Nicola’s narrative covers a wide and varied patchwork of improbable situations, juxtaposing the surreal with the sublime like grandparents caught smuggling drugs to the free-spirited neighbour indulging in swinging. Dora, the main protagonist, has unique relationships with her parents, children, husband, sister and animals, all of which are explored in the fast-paced cacophony of absurdity. A well written, laugh-out-loud look at a middle-class, middle-aged couple dealing with life, direction and purpose.


A great pool-side read accompanied by a G&T!



By James Minter, Mar 10 2018 03:56PM


“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.” ― Mark Twain


Billy and Ant Lie is the fourth book in James Minter’s ‘Billy’ series – a life learning collection for children entering adolescence. The series focuses on difficult or troubling situations faced by many preteen’s as they embark on their journey towards adulthood. The world is a confusing, complex and ever-changing place, and Minter’s Billy series attempts to help young adults to understand the decisions and situations which they many encounter. The first book in the Billy series – a review of which you can find here – in which Minter’s main character, Billy, has his extra-special birthday present stolen by an older boy, tackles the issue of bullying, and how best to react, and deal with situations in which you find yourself victimised or picked on by other people. The fourth book, which uses a very similar approach to Minter’s first book, tackles the issue of lying.


The book begins with Billy setting off on his bike to meet his friend Ant so that they can ride to school together. It is a simple, ordinary enough day, until Billy and Ant stumble upon a £1 coin in the bus stop. Despite running a little bit late for school the two friends head off to buy some sweets from Mr Gupter’s garage.


There is something to be said for being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, which Billy and Ant discover, when their sweet buying attempt is interrupted by a fleeing shop lifter. Shocked, and presumably a little upset, the pair rush off to school before they can be questioned by anyone else at the scene. Worried that their lateness will land them in trouble, they concoct an elaborate lie to get them off the hook, deciding to say that Ant had a flat tyre, and that they had to return home to get it fixed before coming in to school.


Lies are never simple though, and they rarely get you off the hook. So when the police come to school appealing for any witnesses from the incident at Mr Gupter’s garage it is only a matter of time before the Billy and Ant’s story begins to unravel. When the local Police Constable asks to speak to Billy and Ant about the situation their teacher is shocked – they couldn’t possibly have seen what had happened, they were very specific about their whereabouts during the incident. Billy and Ant realise that it is only a matter of time before the truth catches up to them, and they discover just how much trouble their lie has caused.


The guilt and fear at having told a lie proves to be more trouble than it was worth. When Billy and Any made the decision to hide their true whereabouts from their teacher, they may have thought they were committing a victimless crime, but in reality, like a pebble being dropped into a pond, their lie created ripples that were more far-reaching than either boy could ever have imagined.


The reality is that if they had just told the truth to begin with, they wouldn’t have got in any trouble – their teachers and parents would likely have been concerned for their wellbeing, rather than disappointed and hurt. By telling a lie, they made things the worse not just for themselves, but for all those around them too.


Billy and Ant Lie is another a wonderful example of a story that young children can enjoy reading along with the parents, while learning a little bit about the world around them. The book is well-written and easy to follow, offering an accessible route for parents to broach an issue that is likely to affect many young children as they begin their journey into adulthood.


Minter’s Billy Books are designed for parents, guardians, teachers and the young minds they care for, to help smooth the journey along the bumpy road from late childhood into adolescence. The books provide lessons and advice for children, as well as a conversation starter for adults wishing to approach these subjects with their young counterparts. By providing a character than children can relate to, the books help children to form an understanding of the real-world implications of their actions.


https://jadetheobscure.com/2018/03/10/billy-and-ant-lie-james-minter/


By James Minter, Jan 16 2018 02:59PM


For me “how to” books are the best and V.V Cam’s books are up there with the most useful. This book is the latest addition to her “Because Money Matters” series and is a very worthy addition it is indeed.

V.V Cam has a particular structure and style to her writing – honest, inclusive, and written from hard-won experience and knowledge presented in a concise, yet extremely readable style. She includes many self-check questionaries’ and dozens of links to really valuable websites for the reader to get extra information or guidance.


Although this book focuses on Fiverr.com as the platform on which to build your freelancing business, the breadth and depth of the content and lessons learnt make it suitable for any intending, new or recent person thinking of going it alone. Becoming your own boss sounds very glamorous, but the reality is, the buck stops with you every time: this fact alone makes many an individual think twice about going down this route. The truth is, with planning, preparation and a copy of V.V Cam’s book under your arm you will be off to a great start…and just in time.


The rise of the Gig Economy - an environment in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements, i.e. freelancing – is predicted by Intuit to account for 40 percent of American worker employment by the year 2020. This book is very timely, and for only the price of a cup of coffee, a very worthy investment. Hone your skills, develop your communication abilities and take control of your working life.

A copy of this book was provided by the author for review purposes.



By James Minter, Jan 16 2018 11:15AM

The day I sat down to read this book, quite by chance I observed two entirely unrelated events. One was a TED Talk by Iain McGilchrist, a Fellow at All Souls college, at the University of Oxford: discussing what’s happened to our soul or spirit. And the second, an event on a TV show for pop-star hopefuls. One contestant, a lady in her early thirties, had been driven for as long as she could remember to become a singer. So much so, when she was 9-years-old, she had made up her mind to seek a place at a school specialising in music education. She worked hard and won a scholarship. At the school, she achieved a great deal, but her success was in opera singing when she really wanted to be a pop singer. However, she stuck with opera to please her teacher, her parents, grandparents and other family members. In other words, she lived the life they wanted for her, not the life she was supposed to live. It was only on the death of her younger brother did she realise, in the words of Heaney, “You see, a life doesn’t last forever, and then you become dead.”. At the moment she promised herself to switch from opera to popular music-her lifelong dream-and competing for a place on the TV show was her starting point to start living the life she was supposed to live.


“A Yorkie's Tale” operates on a number of levels – for a child, the beautiful illustrations will engage their young minds as well as the array of diverse characters which populate the story – a rat, an owl, a possum, a parrot and many more – plus it’s a well-written to boot. For the adult reader, woven into the plot are messages we all need to remember. For example, we all live in our own world, but actually, there is a much bigger world out there – we have so much to learn and experience. Equally, it’s not about how we look on the outside, but what’s important is who we are on the inside: our spirit or soul. As Heaney says, “It’s the spirit that puts the light in your eyes and the love in your heart.” This is what McGilchrist explored in his presentation.


Heaney also recognised that leaving the familiar is always uncomfortable but a discomfort which has to be borne to find the life you should be living. This is shown, in the above example, by the hard decision the promising pop star had to make and relay to her family and teacher. But notwithstanding, it’s a complicated world, meaning that what is good for one is not necessarily good for others.


Heaney doesn’t make light of deciding to live the life you’re supposed to. He recognises it’s only the start, and nothing is easy. Our chosen path can lead to uncertainty, to moments of doubt and even regret. Being strong is necessary. “The road you are on, the quest undertaken, immovable obstacles seem placed in your way. Ne’er turnaround now; to learn, you must stay…or the truth you shall miss.”


“A Yorkie’s Tale” is full of great life lessons we all need to absorb or be reminded of. To treasure friendships; the importance of generosity and kindness; take nothing for granted and look for the richness of the world in which we live; joy and contentment can be discovered almost anywhere; and that latter exist as much inside us as outside.


Heaney continues, we should not fear death since our mortality urges our spirit to seek out what our lives mean, and living the life you’re meant to live is about embracing the totality of the life you live.



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