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Memoirs

Book Review: This Will Only Hurt A Little

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Busy Philipps is an actress that is probably known more for other things than her acting roles. In recent years, she has become more popular from her Instagram stories and being so open about her life. I wasn’t privy to this knowledge and was surprised when she got a book deal. I was like who wants to hear about her life? The book was everywhere so I decided to get in on the action.

Busy obeyed the golden rule of memoirs and was very open. Like super, duper open. We get a detailed account of her life starting from her childhood, which unfortunately is always my least favorite part of celeb memoirs, I just can’t find myself wanting to care about it and would rather get to the juicy stuff. Busy shares her family dynamic and how her sister was so mean to her. She gets into the dirty when she talks about losing her virginity at 14 and having an abortion at 16.

She progresses to when she decides to be an actress, her first few years in college, her first big break with Freaks and Geeks where she was not a fan of James Franco and considered him to be a douche. She speaks about the set of Dawson’s Creek, becoming friends with Michelle Williams, her failed relationships. Meeting her husband and their difficulties, her weight struggles in Hollywood and struggling with being a parent and much more.

As is the rule, I audio’d this one and I liked the layout and pacing of the book but man, getting through her vocal fry and valley girl accent was a chore. She was also so hysterical for most of it and came off as entitled. Or was it bratty? She did give the disclaimer that her version of stories were her memories and it could quite possibly be wrong.

While she comes off as privileged, I did like how she acknowledged she had a sparkly personality which she explained as people always wanting to do stuff for you and things working out for her. But in another breath, she was open about how hard it was for her and her husband when the jobs dried up and they couldn’t afford a nanny before she got the Cougar Town gig. She wasn’t very kind to a lot of Hollywood figures in the book which was bold of her considering most people don’t speak up on this.

Overall, I think I liked the book but now in hindsight, I am thinking “did I?” because I am not sure I would recommend it? If Busy is someone that has been on your radar then I think it would be worth your time because she doesn’t skimp on details at all. That much I’ll give her.

Taynement

Fantasy

Book Review : Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

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“Truth is truth and nothing you can do about it even if you hide it, or kill it, or even tell it. It was truth before you open your mouth and say, that there is a true thing.” 

Tracker is highly sought after, for his skills as a hunter. He finds people with his intense sense of smell. He is called upon to find a mysterious boy who disappeared from his mother’s house three years earlier. He finds himself in a group of very odd people with very unique powers all on a quest to find this boy that none of them know much about. When they start getting attacked from all sides, Tracker wonders exactly who the boy is and where the quest is actually going to lead him to.

“Life is love and I have no love left. Love has drained itself from me, and run to a river like this one.” 

This book was a highly anticipated release, it was sold to the audience as the African Game of Thrones. Let me disabuse you of that notion now. This book is NOTHING like Game of Thrones. I have read the Game of Thrones series and again, it is nothing like it. First of all, this is only for hard core fantasy fans and even if you’re one, you’re going to suffer through this. It is less of a straightforward first person narration and more of a stream of consciousness. Tracker narrates the stories himself and it takes so long to get to the meat of the matter. He goes on so many tangents that I won’t be surprised if a lot of people don’t finish this one.

“He is my friend.” “Nobody ever gets betrayed by their enemy.” 

Also, don’t do this book on audio. The narrator has a very thick accent that’s a cross between what Hollywood thinks Africans sound like and a Jamaican accent. You get used to it after a while but this is not a book you can have in the background while doing other things. You really have to listen attentively to understand what is being said. If I had a drinking game for every time the writer said “fuck” or “cock”, I would have been drunk before I hit 10% of the book. It has a lot of sex and if you’re a prude, this is just not the book for you.

“Better to be with the ancestors than to live bonded to somebody else, who might be kind, who might be cruel, who might even make you master to many slaves of your own, but was still master over you.” 

I liked some of the world building in this book. As Tracker follows the boy’s scent from one ancient city to another; into dense forests and across deep rivers, the descriptions of the societies in these cities and the creatures they come across in these forests are fantastic. There were moments I got a glimpse into what this book could have been, if the writer had taken it a different route. I think the premise of this book was great but the execution, not so much.

I found this book to be a maze and you will get lost and confused a lot, I can only advise you to just plow through it if you feel compelled to get through this book. I don’t think this book is for a lot of people and personally, I wouldn’t even know how to sell it.

I think I’m still going to read the next installment in this series because I’m really curious about where the author intends to take this book to. I gave it 2 stars on Good Reads. If you really want to read this one, I think you should persevere through the first 100 pages until the adventure starts off before you decide to give up cos those pages might be just for you.

Have you heard of this book? Are you planning to give it a go? Let me know in the comments.

Leggy.

Fiction

Book Review: A Spark Of Light by Jodi Picoult

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“It stood to reason that both life and death began with a spark of light”

The Center is a woman’s reproductive health services clinic that provides gynecological services to women, including abortions. It’s one of the last of its kind as the people of Mississippi do not take kindly to abortions mostly because of their religion. One fine morning we meet a whole bunch of characters who go to the center for different reasons.

15 year old Wren was there to get birth control with her aunt. We have Joy, who is there to get an abortion and Janine, who is a pro-lifer that was at The Center undercover to get ammunition. There are a host more others who are unfortunate to be in there when a gun man seeking revenge, walks in and holds them hostage. To make matters worse, the lead hostage negotiator turns out to be Wren’s dad and the situation becomes personal for him.

“Your religion should help you make the decision if you find yourself in that situation, but the policy should exist for you to have the right to make it in the first place. 

When you say you can’t do something because your religion forbids it, that’s a good thing. When you say I can’t do something because YOUR religion forbids it, that’s a problem.” 

It’s been a while since I read a Jodi Picoult book. The only thing I remember about her books was she must always have a character that dies. This book was mainly based around abortions and was a challenge to pro-lifers everywhere, to see the other side of the coin. While it was clear where Picoult stood, she was very fair in showing both sides of the argument. Each character was fully fleshed out and you really got to understand why they made the decisions they did and how they ended up at The Center.

The book is written in reverse order, starting at 5pm and it.drove.me.nuts! Now for those who rush to the back of the book before starting, this may not be an issue for you. It just took away from whatever semblance of a buildup there was. There was also a twist that came from nowhere and seemed like an after thought.

Overall, I liked the book okay because it was a timely issue – women’s rights, with strong view points. It’s one of those books that you hope makes a difference and helps people have a well rounded view. If you don’t think reverse chronology would bother you, I’d definitely recommend.

There were so many good quotes that I figured I’d share some of my favorites:

“Laws are black and white; lives of women are shades of gray”

“We are all drowning slowly in the tide of our opinions, oblivious that we are taking on water every time we open our mouths.” 

“Louie believed that those white men with their signs and slogans were not really there for the unborn, but there for the women who carried them. They couldn’t control women’s sexual independence. To them, this was the next best thing.”

“Vonita, God rest her soul, used to say that if men were the ones to get pregnant, abortion would probably be a sacrament. The Super Bowl halftime show would celebrate it. Men who had terminated pregnancies would be asked to stand and be applauded at church for the courage to make that decision. Viagra would be sold with a coupon for three free abortions.” 

Taynement

 

Fiction, Uncategorized

We Chit Chat: An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma

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“Agbatta-Alumalu, the fathers of old say that without light, a person cannot sprout shadows. My host fell in love with this woman. She came as a strange, sudden light that caused shadows to spring from everything else.”
Leggy: An Orchestra of Minorities. Do you know I went into this book without reading a single thing about it? Not even the plot. I kept wanting to but never got around to it.
Taynement: Shouldn’t be a surprise but same for me. I just kept seeing it everywhere and a friend asked me if I’d read it because he was enjoying it.
Leggy: How was your reading experience?
Taynement: Very interesting.  I sent you a screenshot of the very beginning and I prepared myself for a bumpy ride. This was going to be one of those wordy Nigerian authors. It was a rollercoaster. I got in a groove and started getting into the story line. Then I started looking at my clock and the book just wouldn’t end and then it did and I was relieved.
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Leggy: I did this book on both audio and kindle. My audio experience didn’t last very long because the reader completely butchered the Igbo language. I was cringing so bad and it kept taking me out of the story. I’m Igbo and speak Igbo fluently and if you are like me, I do not recommend the audio version but if you don’t understand Igbo I think it was well done. I had to return to kindle for my sanity. This was a bumpy reading experience for me because I was cringing from both the characters and yes, the book just went on and on, mummy.
Taynement: While I always admire Nigerian writers who are unapologetic and write straight Nigerian languages and slang, this was on another level. The illiteracy of the main character was … something else. I mean he called his girlfriend “mummy” and where anyone would say “yea” or “sure”, he would say “that is so, mummy”
Leggy: Girl. I couldn’t imagine what Ndali saw in him. He was so uncouth, he couldn’t speak fluent English, he wasn’t particularly clean. There was nothing he had going for him.
Taynement: And I don’t know how realistic that was, considering Nigerians as we know are as shallow as they come. And she was from an affluent family. Like travel overseas affluent. I couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Leggy: And she was beautiful. It’s not like she was ugly and managing. She was beautiful, in Pharmacy school and struggling to marry someone like Nonso? It just didn’t make any sense to me. I guess it’s because he saved her life. That probably clouded her judgment.
Taynement: Yeah I thought about that but I don’t think I’m sold on that. There’s grateful then there’s this intense relationship they had. Going back a bit, I did like the setup of his character. It was a chore to get through but I think it was needed. Letting us know his childhood, relationship with women, his dad, how he ended up as a farmer etc and the Igbo cosmology. What did you think about that?
Leggy: That “Chi” had wayyy tooo much to say. I was exhausted. He would go on so many different tangents
Taynement: I got to a point where I was skimming. But I liked the many names he had for the gods
Leggy: Yup, but I was really impressed that he didn’t refer to “ekwensu” as the devil. He said he was the god of trickery and I was like okay, this man researched for this book. That’s what he’s supposed to be in the Igbo cosmology. But God, I was tired. And you know I did some of this book on audio so I couldn’t skim those parts.
Taynement: He did! You know I like to read acknowledgements and he mentioned how he did research especially through his dad.
Leggy: What did you think of the events that occurred before he left for Cyprus that’s the main reason I was like what kind of illiterate character is this? I could see the scam coming from a 1000 miles away.
Taynement: It was a lot and all the more made me question what kind of love is this? Is jazz* involved?
(* slang for African magic)
Leggy: As in, selling his house just to go to college because even if it wasn’t a scam
and it was all legit, who the fuck does that?
Taynement: I think everything he did to go to Cyprus was so questionable. To the point, I wondered if he was mentally challenged.
Leggy It was insane and if I was Ndali, that is the point I would have left him. He didn’t talk to her about any of the decisions he made.
Taynement: None.
Leggy: He just made them, thinking he was doing them for her. She didn’t approve of them even when he told her.
Taynement: Yea this book was a lot now that I think about it.
Leggy: A lot! That was why I was so frustrated and hated the character after he came back from Cyprus. Because Ndali didn’t ask him to do any of the things he did. But somehow he felt that she owed him.
Taynement: I actually didn’t see the events in Cyprus coming. I thought it was going a different direction and he would see the light and betray Ndali.
Leggy: I knew he would end up where he ended up. That’s how all these stories go. Immediately he met the white woman and she talked about her marriage, I knew what was going to go down.
Taynement: On a random note there was so much mention of urine in this book.
Leggy: Lmaooooo
Taynement: And it was called urine
Leggy: So muchhhhhhhh. In so many different ways
Taynement: I really would like to know why the writer wanted to go the really “bush” route
Leggy: Because how else would he have ended up in Cyprus under those circumstances? I think any other person wouldn’t have put themselves in that position
Taynement: No, I mean in general. Even down to his description of stuff in the book. Like when he described the diarrhea it was sooo bush. And sometimes with no warning or context
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Leggy: He wanted it to be “authentic”. What did you think about Ndali as a character? Did she feel real to you?
Taynement: She did until you asked me this question and now I could see how she could have been a figment of imagination
Leggy: She didn’t seem real to me at all. When they had sex and she was telling him that they’re now one, I was cringing so bad. Her entire character seemed not grounded in reality. For such a young and smart girl, she seemed so desperate to get married
Taynement: Hmm I didn’t get the sense she was desperate to be married just more be connected to someone. Which is on par, considering she was going to kill herself over a breakup when they first met
Leggy: What did you think of the events with his friend Jamike? I got tired of the back and forth and wondered why Jamike stuck to it
Taynement: I don’t think I really have any thoughts on him. He wanted to be a martyr and I think by then I was ready for the book to end.
Taynement: Overall I think the book is very hit or miss. I can see why people would hate it or love it. As always I wondered how non Nigerians would view this book. Especially since in this case, there was heavy illiteracy in this. For me, the story had my attention and I appreciated the knowledge on Igbo cosmology in the book,  but at the same time it was kind of a chore to read. It was such a descriptive book. Everything was written with all the details and for a squeamish person it grossed me out a bit. Whether it was describing diarrhea, rotten food or bodily functions it was like yeah okay we get it
*A quick google search and it seems Americans love it and it was a Man Booker Prize finalist. Those that don’t, seem to think it was sexist and Ndali was just a figure head and most of her perspective was not included*
Leggy: Oh absolutely. This was a very easy read but I couldn’t wait for it to finish
Taynement: Really? Definitely didn’t think it easy
Leggy: The suspension the author set up with the chi situation was quite well done because I couldn’t wait to find out exactly what Nonso had done. I really liked the last few pages of the book. It was well written and I liked how it ended. Would you recommend this book to anyone?
Taynement: Hmm. Nah, I don’t think so. Not sure I’d know how to sell it
Leggy: Wow. Really? I definitely would if they’re looking to read more African authors. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll write next. I gave this book 2 stars on Goodreads.
Taynement: Don’t necessarily think this book made me interested in his past or future works.
Leggy: Wow Really?
Taynement: Yea. I didn’t hate it but I just don’t think it would be top on the list of books to recommend
Leggy: Honestly, most people who like Nollywood would think it was okay. I’d say if you like really dramatic Nollywood movies, you’d probably like this
Taynement: Hmm. I don’t know. Watching is not the same as reading and the Chi was verrrry wordy.
Leggy & Taynement
Book Related Topics, Fiction, Young Adult

Favorite Childhood Books

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I was a voracious reader as a child. The fourth of six kids,  I read so many things way earlier than I should have. I started reading Mills & Boons in Primary 4 (4th grade) because my older sisters had them lying around. I looooved romance novels. Growing up, I consumed so many of them which is why I’m surprised I grew up to be an adult who doesn’t love romance novels.

Anyway, in between all that debauchery, I actually read some age appropriate books and I want to share my favorites growing up. I hope when I have kids someday that they love these books too! Also, you’re never too grown up to reread these books to see if they stand the test of time or to read one of these for the very first time!

  • Mallory Towers by Enid Blyton – I read A LOT of Blyton growing up in Nigeria and these books were my absolute favorites. They were so funny, relatable and painted such a fun picture of boarding school that made me want to go to one so bad (my mother vehemently said no!). This was the first school series I ever read. The characters were all fully developed and even the antagonist (Gwendolyn! what a brat!) had a great arc through out the book. This is one I have never reread, I want to do this on audio soon, to see if it holds up but I remember it with such fondness and nostalgia for my childhood days.
  • From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler – I reread this book last year and it was just as fantastic as I remember it being. I was so glad that 7 year old Leggy had great taste in books. Claudia Kincaid is tired of being the older sister in her family so she decides to run away. Being the very resourceful and clever girl that she is and knowing her younger brother Jamie has money and thus can help her with a serious cash-flow problem, she invites him along. These two kids successfully run away in New York City to the MET! This is such a fun read and I think even adults who are looking for a palate cleanser would enjoy it.
  • Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene – I have read every Nancy Drew novel that has ever been written! My mom really liked these books, so she bought so many of them for us. There was always a Nancy Drew novel available to read and as soon as I could read, I devoured them. Carolyn Keene was so adept at keeping a young girl’s attention – there was just the right amount of mystery, very mild romance and innocent fun as Nancy and her pals sleuthed around solving not-so gruesome mysteries and murders. I would always beg my mom to let me read just one more chapter but would end up staying up all night to read the entire thing because every chapter pretty much ended on a cliffhanger and I just had to know what happened next! I have not read these books as an adult, I probably won’t get to them anytime soon but I adored them as a child. I’m just going to trust 7 year old me that they were good.
  • The Baby Sitter’s Club by Ann Martin – I loved these books growing up, I have tried to go through the series description to find one that I did not read and I couldn’t find any. My mom bought these books anywhere she could find them because she knew we were guaranteed to love them. This book is about a group of friends who decide to start a baby sitting business in their home town. We followed them through puberty, diabetes, parents getting divorced, moving away and of course, BOYS! These books were just such easy reads but I wonder if they’d really stand the test of time today. I somehow doubt it but they were great to 7 year old me.
  • Famous Five by Enid Blyton – The famous five included Julian, Dick, Anne, not forgetting tomboy George and her beloved dog, Timmy! These books made me feel like a grown up. There were actually high stakes involved unlike Nancy Drew, I actually felt like they were in actual danger of being hurt. After reading these books, I’d beg my older sister to play detective with me but she’d say no because sisters are horrible! I loved George, she was my favorite character. It’s so amazing how progressive her character is by today’s standards to balk at gender roles and expectations and just be herself.

Just as an aside and bonus hot take, you know a book that everybody loved but 6 year old me absolutely hated? Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I just did not see what the fuss was all about. Wow, I really was a young tough critic.

What are some of the books you enjoyed reading as a young ‘un? I want to know in the comments! Have your read them again recently? Did they stand the test of time? Sound off in the comments, we love reading them!

Leggy

romance

Book Review: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

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The modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, it’s about the five Bennett sisters and their pushy mom – who is dismayed that none of her five daughters are married and their dad – who I don’t even think knows he exists. The Bennett parents live in their house in Ohio with their three youngest daughters – Mary, Kitty and Lydia. Mr. Bennett has a heart attack, prompting the two oldest daughters, Mary and Liz,  who live in New York to head home to help tend to their dad.

With all of them together under one roof, their mom wastes no time in matchmaking by inviting them to a neighborhood barbecue to meet Chip Bingley who was a suitor on Eligible, a The Bachelor-type show. He has his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy in tow and the rest makes up this hot garbage of a book.

You guys, I HATED this book. Like, this was an awful book. There is nothing redeeming about it. The writing was awful, the characters were awful, the structure, the plot – all awful. So many things felt so cut and paste. Jane’s story line was the most ridiculous from start to finish and Sittenfeld wrote her in a way that made me think Jane was a little mentally behind than the average person.

Don’t get me started on the tone deafness. Mrs. Darcy is clearly Trump-nation and makes all these weird racial comments. One of the cut and paste story lines was the introduction of a transgender character which causes Mrs. Darcy anguish and she only understands when its explained to her that being trans is like having a birth defect – what?? Yup, she is racist and transphobic.

At some point when Liz is crying on a bench, a woman stops to ask her if she is okay, except the book says “a black lady stops and says are you okay, honey?” or when one of the producers on Eligible is described as the Asian woman. Ughhhh. Don’t get me started on when Liz says she is not interesting enough to be on a reality show as she is not in an interracial relationship or dating a trans man. My God, who approved this? The author just tried too hard to be “down” and failed miserably.

The book couldn’t decide if it was PG or R. One minute there was cursing and next minute it’s describing an erection as “proof that he was ready” as if you are reading a Harlequin novel. Like I said, badly written. The book was written from the POV of Liz and for some odd reason the final chapter suddenly just cuts and pastes a random backstory about Mary.

In the off chance you couldn’t tell, I hated this book. Don’t waste your time with this, you will be sorely disappointed. It managed to get 1 star from me because for some delirious reason, I finished reading this book. But just because I suffered, doesn’t mean you have to. Don’t do it!

Taynement

Memoirs

Book Review: Educated by Tara Westover

“On the highway below, the school bus rolls past without stopping. I am only 7, but I understand that it is this fact more than any other that makes my family different. We don’t go to school. Dad worries that the government will force us to go, but it can’t because it doesn’t know about us. Four of my parents’ seven children don’t have birth certificates. We have no medical records because we were born at home and have never seen a doctor or nurse. We have no school records because we’ve never set foot in a classroom.”

This book was all the rage last year. It made all the best of 2018 lists I saw but I consciously avoided it because I had read “The Sound of Gravel” by Ruth Wariner and it was being compared to it in certain circles and I decided that I didn’t have the stomach for it. For some reason, I still requested it from my library last year where I was so far down on the list and promptly forgot about it, until it was released unexpectedly to me earlier this month. I am super glad I didn’t have anything else to read, so I took a chance on it.

“To admit uncertainty is to admit to weakness, to powerlessness, and to believe in yourself despite both. It is a frailty, but in this frailty there is a strength: the conviction to live in your own mind, and not in someone else’s.” 

Tara was born to survivalist parents in the mountains of Idaho. They were fundamentalist Mormons and her father forbade hospitals, drugs, formal education and isolated them from mainstream society. Her father worked in a junk yard while her mother was a mid wife and that’s how they made their living as a family. Tara, never having been to a classroom, teaches herself math and grammar, takes the ACT and gets a high enough score to get admitted to Brigham Young University for undergrad. This book is about the tenacity of a child to want and envision better for herself than the life she was handed and to overcome the emotional and physical abuse she experienced in the hands of members of her family to go on to Ivy league schools.

“It’s strange how you give the people you love so much power over you, I had written in my journal. But Shawn had more power over me than I could possibly have imagined. He had defined me to myself, and there’s no greater power than that.” 
I quite enjoyed this book, I thought it was well written and interesting to read. I really enjoyed and appreciated the descriptions of physical and emotional abuse that comes with certain aspects of religion and I like how delicately she handled that. She stresses that this is not a story about Mormonism, but a story about her family. I found it fascinating how much she still wanted to be loved and accepted by her family, even after getting an education and attaining so much for herself.  Even after she had rejected their way of life and religion and calling out her older brother, Shawn, for the abuse he meted out to them.They were all she had known and she loved them dearly and did not want to be alienated from them.

“I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her.” 

One of the things I found contradictory about this book was how much leeway they gave themselves on their isolation from the government stance. They still had a phone and a television even though they never went to the hospital or school. They even filed taxes which I found  incredible considering how terrible her dad thought the government was. I thought he made a lot of excuses for the excesses he allowed himself but would dig his heels in on things like, going to the hospital when he was burned all over, on the basis of religion. The author felt like her father had undiagnosed mental health issues and without sounding like a couch doctor, I definitely agree that there were some medical issues that made him stick with some beliefs while completely disregarding them when it suited him.

“We are all of us more complicated than the roles we are assigned in the stories other people tell”

A common criticism heaped on this book is questioning how much of this book is embellished. This was another reason I wanted to wait till the hype died down to read it for myself and make up my own mind. I do think that a lot of our memories might not be what they are.  But in the book, she consults the siblings she is still in contact with, to have them collaborate a lot of her memories and if she doesn’t remember something exactly, she lets the readers know that.

Also, having read the book, there is really nothing over the top that happens. I can see how this exact scenario can play out especially in the country I grew up in that is rampant with a lot of undiagnosed mental health issues masquerading as religion. I really enjoyed this one and urge people to read it with an open mind and away from the hype. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads.

 

Leggy.