Book Related Topics, Fiction, literary fiction, Mystery, thriller, Uncategorized

Book Review: The Survivors by Jane Harper

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Kieran comes home to help his mother pack up his childhood home when his father’s dementia gets really bad. He returns home with his girlfriend and their new child, 12 years after an accident changed the community forever. He still has a lot of guilt around what occurred on the day his brother and his best friend died. During his visit, a body washes up on the beach and a can of worms is opened all over again. What connection could this have, to what happened 12 years ago?

Harper is known for her well written atmospheric mysteries. If you’ve read The Dry, then you’d know exactly what to expect. Survivors is set in a small coastal community that is losing its industries. The tourists aren’t coming as they used to, shops are closing up earlier and during the summer, more people are heading up for greener pastures. When Harper describes the caves in the book and how they behave at high tide, it’s incredibly eerie to imagine.

Ultimately though, this book fell completely flat to me. The mystery was not gripping at all because, the only person the book made me care about was Kieran and I knew it was also not him who committed the murder so I was not at all invested in the mystery. It took me a long time to get into this book, there was a lot of padding and a lot of insinuations before the author finally revealed what happened 12 years ago and it was underwhelming. Also, the more the author tried to plant red herrings to lead us away from the actual murderer, the more I didn’t care. I’m usually really on the alert when reading mystery books and always trying to guess who did it but I just didn’t care with this book.

Harper is usually great with slow burns but this one just seemed so repetitive. I don’t think this book is an accurate representation of how good her mysteries usually are. The end fell flat for me. The murderer is revealed and then the book just abruptly ends. We don’t get an epilogue talking about the community’s reaction to who it was. The book just ends! In fact, it really just fizzled out like the author suddenly got tired of the characters and just couldn’t bear to write another word about these people ever again.

Anyway, even though this review doesn’t sound like it, I read this book in one sitting and thought it was okay. I think you should give her other books a try (The Dry, The Lost Man) though before you get to this one because this is definitely not her best work. Maybe if you read it with a lower expectation than I did, then you’d like it better. Also, I recognize that I’m in the minority with how I felt about this book but that’s okay. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads mainly because it is well written even if the story fell flat.

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, scifi

Book Review: Followers by Megan Angelo

Followers by Megan Angelo

“I’m going to tell you the same thing I’ve been telling you since you were ten years old, Orla,” she said quietly, like she was trying not to embarrass her. “It’s not good to be a follower.”

This book shuttles across two time periods – 2015 and 2051.

In 2015, we are introduced to two friends, Orla and Floss in New York. Orla is a blogger who writes about celebrities but what she really wants to be is a book author. Her roommate, Floss simply wants to be a celebrity. Orla comes up with a plan that works and she orchestrates Floss being a celebrity including managing Floss’s social media accounts. All is well, except Orla and Floss’s methods are not exactly kosher and some people get hurt along the way.

In 2051, we are in a new world post “The Spill” – when everyone’s secrets online were revealed. The internet is no more and the Government controls a lot of things including government appointed celebrities. We meet Marlow in California. She is one of the popular government appointed celebrities in this new world, with 12 million followers. Being a government appointed celeb means you have a sponsorship, a camera on you 24/7, your partner is chosen, your eggs are harvested and you are told when you can have kids – everything is planned for you and you have no say in your life.

Marlow finds out a kink in her family history and goes on a quest to break free and find out the truth. Followers is the story of how the lives of the mentioned characters cross paths. Each living different lives but fueled by fulfilling their strong heart’s desire.

I loved this book. I think it was written very well and it was hard to believe that it was a debut novel. The premise was a stand out and although it was fiction (with some dystopian sci-fi sprinkled into it), it hit really close to home because I could very easily see it being a reality. Angelo explores a world where being famous at all costs, no matter who it hurts, is the goal. She explored how important social media/followers were on this quest. (Sound familiar?)

The Spill is something I have always feared will happen someday when it comes to messaging systems like Whatsapp,imessage etc. Imagine the government spilling your secrets by sending out the worst things you have ever said or done. I don’t think we ever got a full explanation on what caused “The Spill”, we were given an overload on the power grid but I wasn’t fully satisfied with it.

I felt like all the characters were very well and fully developed – we do get to know about Orla’s family and childhood – and Angelo kept them consistent. For every action made by each character, you were not surprised because it was on brand with what we knew of them. Angelo did a fantastic job of creating this futuristic world that I felt like I could imagine it and actually see it.

Overall, I think the book made you stop and think about the dark realities of social media and all that it comes with. I think towards the end it dragged a bit and you could tell she was trying to wrap things up as neatly as possible. It’s really hard to have a perfect ending to a book these days, so I didn’t begrudge her the ending. If you are looking for an escapist, easy novel, this probably isn’t it but for a well written, well thought out and slightly dark novel – this is it.

Taynement

Fiction, literary fiction

Book Review: Anxious People by Frederick Backman

Anxious People | Book by Fredrik Backman | Official Publisher Page | Simon  & Schuster

“This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it’s always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is.”

It’s an open house and 8 people are at the apartment viewing when a bank robber bursts in and takes them hostage…or so it seems. While the cops – which consists of a father and son duo – are figuring out how to free them, the strangers pass the time by starting up conversations, learning about each other and figuring out that ultimately, they are all the same – anxious human beings who are just trying to figure life out and make it work.

“Some people accept that they will never be free of their anxiety, they just learn to carry it. She tried to be one of them. She told herself that was why you should always be nice to other people, even idiots, because you never know how heavy their burden is.”

I recently declared Backman my favorite author after being knocked out (in a good way) by Beartown and Us Against Them. He has such a way with words that it’s easy to forget that it’s a translation from Swedish. His writing is so poignant to me that I was excited to read this and it pained me that this was my first Backman novel that didn’t blow me away and honestly that is not to say that it still wasn’t good, it just did not blow me away.

“We need to be allowed to convince ourselves that we’re more than the mistakes we made yesterday. That we are all of our next choices, too, all of our tomorrows.”

It’s difficult to navigate and find focus in a book when there are a large number of characters involved but Backman handled it well. I felt like I got a good understanding of the characters, their background and the anxieties they carried. As always, there were lots of quotables that any adult who is adulting would appreciate. I do think he did a good job of conveying a wide array of anxieties that could be felt by different groups of people (old, young, married, gay etc) via his characters. I like how he made them vulnerable and it felt like the reader was privy to their innermost thoughts and made them relatable.

All that being said, one of the things I enjoy about his books are how I get so sucked in and invested in the characters and I did not get that with this book and this could be because there were so many of them. The closest was the cop-son but even then it felt like a storyline that was never finished. Why mention his sister if it was not leading anywhere?

Our lives are bars of soap that we keep losing hold of; the moment we relax, they drift off and fall in love and get broken, all in the wink of an eye.

It took me some time to get into the book. I started out reading and then I switched to audio (the narrator is fantastic!). I do think the book starts slow and the “bank robbery” sneaks up on you like a surprise. I don’t enjoy works of art that try to be too smart for their own good and at some point in the book, I felt that way. I don’t read Backman for twists and turns and gotcha moments, I am mostly there for the humanity.

In summary, I am glad I pushed through and made it to the end. All the elements of a good book were in this, it just didn’t quite come together perfectly and sometimes lost its way and seemed a bit disjointed. One minute, you could be laughing and the next wondering where the story is going. I acknowledge that I am grading Backman on a higher curve – compared to his other books, it doesn’t measure up but as a stand alone, it is a decent book. If you have ever wanted to read a Backman book, I would suggest not starting with this and starting instead with Beartown.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, christmas, Fiction, literary fiction, Non-Fiction, Self Help

‘Tis The Season – Gift Ideas For The Book Lovers In Your Life

Wow! We can’t believe that Christmas is round the corner. The world is still burning all around us but the fact that we survived this hellish year, only means we deserve an actual Merry Christmas for real. In a bid to make the holiday as close to normal as possible, most of us are still planning to give gifts. Good thing gifts are socially distant conducive. As we do every year, we have curated a list to make gift giving easier for the book lover in your life.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are great to gift because everyone loves a good cookbook even if they have no plans of cooking from it. Pictured above are some of the cookbooks we loved this year. A lot of the recipes are easy to make with ingredients you can get from your local grocery store so anyone can cook through these or just admire the pictures and dream about cooking through them!

Here are some cookbooks we recommend:

  • The Full Plate by Ayesha Curry (this is very basic and the recipes are all under 1 hour but utterly delicious!)
  • Jubilee: Recipes from Two Centuries of African American Cooking by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • Modern Comfort Food by Ina Garten (she’s a household name and she knows good food!)
  • Home Style Cookery by Matty Matheson
  • The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food: A Cookbook by Marcus Samuelsson

Coffee Table Books:

Noone is visiting but because we are spending so much time at home, it’s always good to have aesthetically pleasing, conversation starters ready for when people do start coming over: There were so many coffee table books we loved this year apart from the two pictured above! Some of them are listed below:

Celebrating Blackness

With the kind of year we’ve had, this would be a great time to gift books that’ll help people learn a little more about their neighbors, and it doesn’t have to be very heavy books about race. Support and gift them books from their favorite black authors:

Fiction

Non-Fiction

  • I Don’t Want to Die Poor by Michael Arceneaux
  • Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby
  • Any Black Classic like anything from Maya Angelou, James Baldwin, Langston Hughes. Support black art!

Reading Related Knick Knacks

  • Reading Rests
  • Reading Lights
  • Holiday Lettering Artist Pens
  • Or this amazing reading journal from Etsy! (Also, there’s always collectibles in your loved ones’ favorite books that are widely available on sites like Etsy!)
  • They love Harry Potter? Get them this amazing collectible quidditch set!
  • Love Game of Thrones? Get them this miniature Game of Thrones iron throne!
  • From stickers, to bookmarks to stationeries. Visit The Seasonal Pages and you are sure to find something at such affordable prices (Support Small Businesses!)

Good Ol’ Fiction and Non-Fiction Books

The first step to choosing a book for a loved one is finding out what they actually enjoy reading. Find out the genre they’re most comfortable in, the last thing they read from that genre that they actually loved then try to find them something in the vein. There are so many blogs (LIKE OURS!) that are great resources for reading different reviews and making a suggestion. There’s always nonfiction books on topics they’d enjoy like TV shows, books from their favorite personalities (podcasters, reality show characters, athletes etc.) and if all else fails, get a gift card to their favorite book store (Shop locally if possible!)

Self Help

As we’re getting into the new year, a lot of people might be interested in reading books that might help them achieve whatever goals they’re currently setting for the next year. Self help is always a safe go to as a gift. Just be careful what titles you gift them! LOL.

Here are some of our favorite self help books from 2020:

  • Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies: And Other Rituals to Fix Your Life, from Someone Who’s Been There by Tara Schuster
  • Wisdom from a Humble Jellyfish: And Other Self-Care Rituals from Nature by Rani Shah (considering we’re currently living through a pandemic and are looking for different ways to protect our mental health and develop a self care routine, I highly recommend this one!)
  • Joy at Work: Organizing Your Professional Life by Mary Kondo and Scott Sonenshein
  • Untamed by Glennon Doyle

For The Nostalgic (and possibly older reader in your life)

Book Sets of Old Favorites like Tom Clancy, Ken Follet, Mary Higgins Clark etc.

Don’t Forget Yourself!

While you are shopping for everyone else, don’t forget to get yourself something. We are all hoping for a better year and whatever you need to help you plan, read better or remind yourself of the bad ass you are, here are some journals, notebooks (if you would like to take notes/quotes from the many books on your TBR list) and inspirational cards that are great gift ideas.

Hope this was helpful and you find some great ideas on here. Let us know if you have any questions or got some inspiration from the list. Happy Holidays!!

Taynement & Leggy

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, Historical, romance

Book Review: Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper

Zoey moves back to Dune Island after being laid off from her job and then finding out her ex boyfriend has spent her savings on borderline illegal investments. She goes back to live in her family house with her aunties, Sylvia and Ivy. Aunty Sylvia dies shortly after Zoey arrives on the Island, setting off a fascinating chain of events that uncover family secrets and calls into question the line of inheritance for the Island house.

Zoey’s cousin, Mark is the apparent heir of the house whenever Aunty Ivy dies. He wants to get a headstart and move her to a home for the elderly and hurry up the inheritance. He also wants to lease the house as soon as possible for the summer as the inheritance states that it cannot be sold and must be inherited by someone related to the family by blood. A throwaway comment by an old man at Aunt Sylvia’s funeral calls into question Mark’s paternity and if he is indeed qualified to inherit.

With the cousins clashing over what to do with Aunty Ivy’s cottage and fighting over renovations at the house, Zoey unexpectedly finds an ally in the local carpenter, Nick. Nick left the rat race in New York City to come and start all over again in Dune’s Island after an ugly divorce. When they meet, sparks fly and it makes Zoey wonder if she’ll ever make it off the Island ever.

I enjoyed reading this book. First of all, the cover is gorgeous. It’s a very cozy read and exactly the type of read you need during winter snuggled up in bed under the covers. I enjoyed the descriptions of the small island and the residents in it, the rumors about the older houses and the different real life situations every character in this book had to go through. Aunty Ivy was such a charming character and I just wanted her to be alright and safe. I was pleasantly surprised by this one as I had never heard of the author and she succeeded in creating a charming family. If you’re a fan of Debbie Macomber books, you’d probably enjoy this one.

As much as I enjoyed this story, I found the pacing to be very slow in some parts and rushed in others. There was far too much going on with all the characters (and I mean all of them!). Everyone had a secret or an alcoholic father/stepfather, struggling with a dead spouse, a dead sister, lost jobs, lost homes, lost savings. It all felt a little too much and caused the author not to completely focus on the main storyline.

The resolution of the paternity conflict was so rushed that I wondered if I missed some pages on my kindle. Even the response by Mark at the end felt so in contrast to the character we had seen exhibited throughout the book. It felt so untrue to his character and inauthentic. The romance between Zoey and Nick was almost non existent, I thought the author should have spiced up their relationship a little more. Just when you thought it was about to happen, she’d pull the plug on it and make them have a conflict so I never actually got to see any chemistry between them but suddenly they end up together at the end even though they never actually dated.

Overall, I thought this was a really sweet book with a charming setting especially the parts involving the aunties and their life stories. The ending felt unbelievable and seemed like the author was in a hurry to wrap everything up in a bow and give everybody their own happy ending. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Thanks to Netgalley, Bookouture and the publisher for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

You can purchase a copy of Aunt Ivy’s Cottage by Kristin Harper on Amazon .

Leggy

african author, Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, race, romance, Uncategorized

Book Review: Ties That Tether by Jane Igharo

Ties that Tether - The Stripe

“How much more of yourself, of your culture will you lose to accommodate him in your life?” 

As you may have heard me say a million times this year, it’s been a struggle reading year and I have been doing all I can just to read anything my attention can focus on. I have no recollection of being on a waitlist for this book but once it popped up as available and I saw a Nigerian author, I decided to go for it. Also, is the cover gorgeous or what?

Azere is a 25 year old Nigerian woman who lives in Canada. Before moving to Canada from Nigeria when she was 12 years old, she makes a promise to her dying father to preserve the culture and marry a Nigerian man. Her mother takes this promise to heart and is always on her case to get married and is always matchmaking and setting Azere up on dates. Azere always obliges her mom and goes on these dates and confines her dating pool to just Nigerian men.

Yet another date goes awry and Azere goes to the bar to decompress, meets Rafael and ends up in a one night stand with him. The relationship goes beyond the one night stand and Azere is torn between pleasing her mom and a chance at happiness.

It didn’t take long for me to realize I’d landed on a romance novel but I decided to stick through it to support a Nigerian author. I liked this book enough. Any Nigerian/immigrant can relate to the story and realize it is not far fetched. This book was very heavy on pop culture references but was a good balance of both Western and Nigerian pop culture. A bit on the nose at times but I think it symbolized Azere’s internal struggle of growing up Nigerian and Canadian and identifying as both.

I liked that the book provided insight into the Nigerian culture. Even as a Nigerian, I learned a bit more as Azere is from Edo state. For example, I didn’t know Ogbono soup was from that region. I liked the Edo names mentioned and their full meaning and Azere explains some traditions and their origin. I picked up some names that I thought were just beautiful. I liked the overall message of choosing your happiness and not being tethered due to unhealthy obligations.

The flip side of the book is that you can tell that it is a debut book. It has a slight amateurish feel to it and suffers from the verboseness most Nigerians have. Azere’s character came off as almost childlike/immature. The way she kept wanting to please her mom and keep a promise to her dying father annoyed me. I almost couldn’t believe she had the one night stand given the strong hold her mom seemed to have on her. To be quite honest, her mom came off as a bully to me.

Some storylines felt disjointed in a bid to create anticipation and further the story. It sometimes read like dress up where the story being told was like a recreation of all the various movie and book plot lines we’ve read so some conversations came off clunky. A big blowout between Rafael and Azere and their reaction to it had me scratching my head.

Overall, flaws withstanding, I think it worked. It goes by quickly and is an easy read. It’s one of those where you have to overlook things and just take it for what it is. I gave this 3stars on Goodreads.

Taynement

Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, christmas, Fiction, movie related topics, romance

Bookish Matchmaking: Pairing Christmas Romance Novels With Christmas Movies!

I know we haven’t even had Thanksgiving yet and I don’t care. This is all we have and I can’t believe anyone would want to take this away from us! We’ve all been through IT this year and we deserve two months of Christmas wrapped in all the corny movies netflix and hallmark shove out every year.

Here are 5 book and movie pairings that should get you through a great safely distanced thanksgiving!

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  1. In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren – Maelyn Jones’ life is not going according to plan, she still lives with her parents, stuck in the same crappy job and now the Utah cabin her family has spent christmas for years with two other families is being sold. After a disastrous last Christmas at the cabin, fearing she has lost all chances with her crush, she makes a wish asking to relive christmas all over again and what do you know? Her wish is granted! This is a typical groundhog day type book.
12 Dates Of Christmas (2011) - Rotten Tomatoes

If you like this book, you should check out a christmas movie by abcFamily called 12 Dates of Christmas starring Amy Smart and Mark-Paul Gosselaar. Amy’s character relives her christmas eve blind date with Goseelaar over and over again! (You can find this for free on the Freeform website or rent it on amazon!)

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2. One Day in December by Josie Silver – Laurie meets a strange man at a bus stop, their eyes meet and she instantly falls in love while her bus drives away. She spends weeks looking for said man at the bus stop but never finds him again until her best friend, Sarah, introduces him as her new boyfriend, Jack. And what follows is 10 years of will they? won’t they?

Serendipity (film) - Wikipedia

If you like this book, you should check out Serendipity starring John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale. John and Kate’s characters meet Christmas shopping, fall in love at fight sight, instead of giving her his number like a normal person, she decides to leave it up to fate. 10 years later, they’re both engaged to different people, but of course it’s a movie so… will they? won’t they?

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3. The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss – 34 year old Kate Turner has made her peace with being single. Living in the small town of Blexford, England there aren’t exactly so many men lining up to date her. She’s content with her career and her side gig baking at her friend, Matt’s bakery. But her best friend signs her up to a dating service that promises to find you love in time for Christmas by setting their clients up with 12 blind dates. Will Kate find love with these new men or realise the love of her life has been right under her nose the whole time?

Just Friends (Film) - TV Tropes

If you like this book, you should check out Just Friends starring Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart and Anna Faris. Reynolds’ character loved his high school best friend Amy but she doesn’t reciprocate his feelings after he confesses them to her. 10 years later, he’s lost all his high school weight, become a very successful record executive dating famous Anna Faris. He returns to his hometown for Christmas, realises he still loves his old best friend and sets out to win her love.

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4. Recommended For You by Laura Silverman – Shoshanna Greenberg loves working at Once Upon, her favorite local bookstore. It’s her safe space from everything going on at home and she’s trying to save up money to fix her car. Her boss announces a Christmas holiday bonus that would absolutely save her car and she’s so sure she’s going to win until her rival at work, Jack (WHO DOESN’T EVEN READ!) starts increasing his sales to win the bonus. As the competition heats up, Shoshanna and Jack start spending more time together at the store and sparks start flying.

You've Got Mail (1998) - Rotten Tomatoes

If you like this book, you should check out You Got Mail starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (OR The Shop Around the Corner which is the original 1940 film!). Now, the original movie makes it very clear this is a Christmas movie so hang in there with me! Meg’s character gets put out of business right around Christmas by Tom’s character. They hate each other in real life but unknown to them they’ve developed a passionate relationship online. When Tom’s character realises who she is in real life, he tries to repair their relationship in real life to see if they ever have a shot at being together. This is one of my favorite Romantic Comedies ever!

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5. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on a favorite bookstore shelf, Dash finds it and they run around New York City trading dares and getting to know each other without them ever meeting. Are they destined to find each other or is this just going to remain a fantasy world for both of them?

Dash and Lily Review: Netflix's Christmas Romcom Is Jolly Good Fun

If you like this book, you should check out Dash and Lily the adaptation of this same book on Netflix now. Is this Cheating? I feel like i’m cheating but I don’t care!

Have you read any of these? Are you into seasonal reads and movies? Let us know in the comments!

Leggy

Book Related Topics, Fantasy, Fiction, Historical, literary fiction, romance

Book Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

“The old gods may be great, but they are neither kind nor merciful. They are fickle, unsteady as moonlight on water, or shadows in a storm. If you insist on calling them, take heed: be careful what you ask for, be willing to pay the price. And no matter how desperate or dire, never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”

In a moment of desperation, a woman calls on the gods of the night to help her escape her fate as a woman. She begs for more time to live her life without the pressures of getting married and being forced into an existence she wants no part of. She gives away her soul for time. Addie realises after the fact that nobody remembers her. She is destined to be forgotten by everyone she meets the moment she is out of their sight, that is the price she has to pay. This book sends us on a 300 year journey with the girl no one remembers, through cities and wars and music and languages as she tries to stretch the boundaries of her cage. But one day in a bookstore in New York city, after 300 years of an invisible life, she stumbles across Henry who remembers her name.

“…it is sad, of course, to forget.
But it is a lonely thing, to be forgotten.
To remember when no one else does.”

I enjoyed the first 25% of this book, then it lost me and then it found me again. This book sucks you in immediately. The descriptions and the mere premise of the book makes you pay attention to the story. The language is a little more poetic than I prefer in a fantasy book, but I didn’t hate it. I think it lends itself to the setting the book starts out and lingers in – New York and France.

I was emotionally invested watching her lose her family immediately and having everyone she’s ever loved forget her, the instant she makes her deal. It was heart wrenching seeing her trying to figure out how to survive in a world where out of sight is out of mind. Watching her go through major cities, experience new things for the first time, see the world, meet different men, try to figure out a way to leave her mark anyway was fascinating. This part of the book I enjoyed very much.

“If she must grow roots, she would rather be left to flourish wild instead of pruned, would rather stand alone, allowed to grow beneath the open sky. Better that than firewood, cut down just to burn in someone else’s hearth.”

This book completely lost me in the middle. Once the love interest, Henry, is introduced it becomes utterly boring. Henry is not a compelling character, nothing about him makes you want to stand up and take notice. He’s the stereotypical “nice” guy character who thinks they deserve love just because they’re nice. I did appreciate the discussions on mental health and anxiety but I found this character utterly bland. The more the book went on, the more I found him ridiculous especially when I realized his backstory.

I didn’t find the choices he made to be understandable. I also guessed what his deal was earlier on and was just waiting for it to be confirmed. The story grew repetitive and reading about them falling in love was an absolute drag, after spending the first 100 pages of this book gallivanting around the world with a god that only comes in the dark. Also, after watching Addie try to figure out a way to live a life that matters without being remembered., Henry’s story seemed frivolous compared to Addie’s.

“What is a person, if not the marks they leave behind?”

I quite enjoyed the last 100 pages of this book. I loved how it ended. I know a lot of people would have liked an ending that was more definite but I thought the last chapter was very satisfying. It’s really hard to review this book and not give away spoilers. If you’ve read this one let me know what you think because I wouldn’t mind talking more about this book in depth and with spoilers. I gave this 3 stars on Goodreads.

Leggy

african author, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized

Book Review : His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie

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“Elikem married me in absentia; he did not come to our wedding.”

Afi is a young seamstress who is offered a life changing opportunity. She is offered the position of the chosen wife of Elikem Ganyo – a man she doesn’t truly know. His family gives her a task – make him fall in love with you and leave his wife (the mysterious Liberian woman) who everyone seems to have terrible things to say about. He doesn’t even show up to their wedding, her only contact with him before the wedding day is a phone call acknowledging her presence in his life. After the wedding, she is whisked to Accra and installed in a luxury apartment, with a driver, a huge allowance and anything she can ever wish for except of course, the actual man she married.

“Please, put love aside and be practical. Love will not put food on the table; it won’t hold you at night.”

If you enjoyed Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo, you’d probably enjoy this book. I’ve heard white book people compare this book to Crazy, Rich Asians and that’s ridiculous, this book is nothing like that. It’s not frivolous or “fun”. This is a quick and easy read but it tackles a lot of familiar African issues.

What I enjoyed about this book is that it shows how the status of an African woman is always defined in relation to the men they are bound to. The women in this book are all different and it shows us the different ways women adapt to the society they find themselves in and the ways they decide to exist in it. Some women end up being the pillars of the patriarchal society that has oppressed them, some women discover that they can rise above it and define their own paths and some decide to just go with the flow and take the little wins wherever they can get them.

I loved the tension between Afi’s family and the Ganyos as Afi became more of herself and built a sense of self. She stopped being the grateful girl who was indebted to the Ganyos and became a woman demanding better for herself. I loved watching the power dynamic play out between this powerful and rich family and the young woman they empowered unknowingly.

“All men are the same, they only know how to love themselves and to sit on women.”

As much I enjoyed watching Afi grow, I still found Afi extremely naive. I’m Nigerian and this story is as old as time and everyone knows what the deal is. First of all, I couldn’t believe Afi believed all the things her in-laws told her about Elikem’s first wife – that she is ugly and rude and everything bad. I couldn’t believe how the entire story played out. I must admit that I was extremely irritated with Afi demanding more from the arrangement. I thought she should have been old enough to accept the perks and ignore the drawbacks. I found it hard to accept that a girl who grew up in Ghana was this naive when she walked into this arrangement knowing fully that there was another woman involved in the mix. So whenever she talked about loving Elikem, I couldn’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. Nothing about Afi’s behaviour rang true or realistic to me.

There were some plot threads that the author started but never took anywhere. In the beginning of the book, Yaya (Elikem’s sister) takes Afi to a party where she meets a young handsome young man. This meeting is told to us in great detail and she runs into the young man some other time but nothing happens. That character just disappears and the author does nothing with him for the rest of the book, so what was the purpose of those scenes? This is her debut book so I’m going to be looking out for what she writes next because I think this book had the potential to be great but just stopped short.

This book is very readable and the imagery the author conjures is so fantastic that you can see the book play out right in front of you. The descriptions of the various uncles and aunties who are there to suck your entire resources were spot on! The Uncle character in this book is so realistic and the descriptions of contemporary Ghanaian life were great. Even though I gave this book 3 stars, I hope you still give it a chance. I recommend it!

Leggy

Fiction, literary fiction, race

Book Review: Luster by Raven Leilani

In 'Luster,' a Young Woman Moves in With Her Lover — and His Family - The  New York Times

“I am inclined to pray, but on principle, I don’t. God is not for women. He is for the fruit. He makes you want and he makes you wicked, and while you sleep, he plants a seed in your womb that will be born to die”

Edie is a 23 year old black woman and an artist that is aware of her dysfunctions and trying to navigate her way through life. She gets into a relationship with Eric, a white married man with a black adopted daughter, Akila. His wife, Rebecca is aware of their relationship as they are in an open marriage. Edie loses her job and while trying to figure out her finances and living arrangements, Rebecca invites her to live in their house while Eric is out of town on a work trip – without Eric’s knowledge. The book follows the strange dynamic of figuring out how she fits into the family, her relationship with Eric and her slow ease into a relationship with their daughter when she realizes that she might be the only black person in Akila’s life.

Cool premise huh? Yup. That’s why I promptly added to my TBR list. The accolades too. This book had so much high praise, I definitely didn’t want to be left out and this may be partly why this didn’t work for me. I have low tolerance for protagonists who seem to be lost but Edie is 23 so it makes sense. She is practically a baby. I think she had relatable struggles for her age especially being an actual “starving artist” so to speak. Struggles like being broke in NYC, having a raggedy apartment with a roommate and the politics at her 9-5 job and being one of only two black people.

“I think of how keenly I’ve been wrong. I think of all the gods I have made out of feeble men”

Edie’s biggest detriment seems to be the men she chooses to have sexual relations with and how she lets them treat her. We get a background of her family life that somewhat explains why but it didn’t stop me from cringing a little. At some point with Eric, she encourages him to hit her and that was a tad uncomfortable to read. And this leads to what I think is the major reason this book didn’t work for me – I just couldn’t connect.

Granted I am older than Edie and lived a very different life but I just couldn’t hunker down and feel anything for Edie, not even annoyance. For every new chapter and new revelation, I kept going “okay and..?” because I just was not moved. And while this may be a reality to some, I found a lot of it farfetched. I truly could never understand why Rebecca invited Edie to live with them especially without Eric’s knowledge. We also did not get much insight as to why they had an open marriage. At some point in the book, Edie sees Rebecca and Eric still having sex which makes it more complicated.

A part of why I could not connect is I found the author to be verbose. A line that could be so simple would be described in a complex way with so many words and I am not a fan of that kind of writing. What I thought would be the most interesting story line was the relationship between Edie and Akila, their adopted daughter but the book never really goes in depth with that. I should mention the book is told from Edie’s perspectives so we are privvy to her thoughts.

Its a short book at 227 pages but for me, it was a book in circles. It felt like we went around and around the block, where the views weren’t necessarily pretty and never quite landed at a destination. Basically, nothing made sense to me. I gave this two stars and I’d like to say I have learned my lesson and will not fall for the over-raving and over-hyping of a book but chances are high I will.

Taynement