Book Related Topics, Chick-Lit, Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa

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Plot: Bontle Tau is living a luxurious and largely fake life in Johannesburg, South Africa. She has a gang of admiring older boyfriends who pay her rent, send her on vacations and even secure her high level construction contracts even though she doesn’t have a construction company. She narrates what life is like living the life of a “blessee”

 

Taynement: So, The Blessed Girl…lol

Leggy: Is this an actual book?

Taynement: I don’t want to be harsh but it could have been a PDF fan fiction, but let’s go back to how we ended up with this book. Given everything going on in the world, we wanted to read a fun book by a black author. We’ve been intentional with our chit chats. They’ve mostly been either black or female authors. Enter Blessed Girl.

Leggy: I think we took the fun read waaay to the left. I was actually excited to read this one, but once I downloaded it from my library and read the first 10% I put it down. It was so badly written.

Taynement: Same. It was such a fun cover till I read the first page.

Leggy: I actually would have never finished this book if we didn’t have to do this chit chat.

Taynement: I still don’t honestly know how to categorize this book because it was badly written but I do think there was fun in it? I could see the vision and the format was like it was her writing in her journal and we were the journal? Or it was a video journal and we were the viewers?

Leggy: I didn’t find fun in it. I actually found it very problematic and it ended exactly how I thought it would end. Because obviously we have to punish the “prostitute” by giving her HIV. There was nothing fun in this book for me. I’m also not going to recommend this book to anyone so there’s going to be a lot of spoilers in this chit chat. Can I talk about the author’s treatment of a full blown rapist in this book? He raped a whole 14 year old and they spent the entire time talking about letting him see the son that resulted from this rape instead of discussing the fact that he is an actual rapist!

Taynement: You’re right, I think I’m just reaching. Listen from the moment she said Donald Trump was her idol, I immediately went to search when this book was published and it was 2017.

Leggy: They just threw in the rape part to “explain” why she was the way she was? Fun would be just a materialistic woman who likes money and fascinated us by her exploits. This just turned in a Tyler Perry movie.

Taynement: I think she was wayy too easy on her mother also.

Leggy: Her mother was TRASH!

Taynement: I couldn’t decide if the author wanted us to be mad or sympathetic towards her because I would never speak to that kind of mother again.

Leggy: You handed your 14 year old daughter to a grown man! And then made a case for why this grown man can come back 13 years later and be a great arse dad. What the fuck?! Who approved this crap?! I kept getting really angry reading this book.

Taynement: And his wife supported it. Ewww

Leggy: Also, the main character was crap. I sympathized with everything she had to go through but I didn’t like her. Honestly nobody in this book was likable and I think to pull off a book like this you need a likable protagonist.

Taynement: I think her best friend was – the one with the steady boyfriend but she got no development in the book.

Leggy: Honestly, that girl just came off as a stereotype to juxtapose her “good” character with the main character’s “reckless” life.

Taynement: And of course, trust the abusive man to be Nigerian in a book set in South Africa

Leggy: So many Nigerian oil barons sprinkled in this book, Nigerian artist, even the salon the girl frequented was owned by a Chimamanda. Anyway, I knew she’d get HIV. I mean how can a badly written book get worse than to introduce HIV? The ultimate punishment of wayward women? *rolls eyes*

Taynement: I honestly didn’t see any twist coming. I was too engrossed in how bad this book was and how it got published.

Leggy: Immediately Mr. Emmanuel asked to not wear a condom, I knew it. They didn’t mention through the entire book if she was having protected sex or not so for that to be mentioned specifically, I knew he had HIV.

Taynement: Also, what was the point of telling us about the cheating with her aunt’s husband if nothing came of that plot line?

Leggy: I kept waiting for her aunty to catch her and nothing happened. She even ended up starting a business with her aunty. It was like once they punished her with HIV, her sins were forgiven and she became a whole new person.

Taynement: And her ex-husband never stopped loving her and was fine with everything. I didn’t understand why or how he was still mad at her mother but not her. How do you forget that she is materialistic and only now open to returning to you now that you are successful.

Leggy: Even HIV. The protagonist cheated on him while they were married, lied to him and deceived him but still, love conquered all!

I wonder what the publisher saw in this book and thought it was worth publishing. Honestly, I can list so many Nollywood movies that are better than this book and they didn’t even end with the girls getting HIV.

Taynement: Probably wanted to explore the idea of the blesser/blessee culture but needless to say, this book was a fail. Don’t get caught up by the cover, skip this one people!

Leggy: We didn’t even talk about her brother/son’s drug problems. For a short book, this book sure had a lot of story lines.

Taynement: Someone who got rehabbed in 30 days.

Leggy: And suddenly was a drug free, happy child chilling with his rapist father and his family. We have to export this fantastic rehab to the world. Anyway, like Tayne said, skip this one. I wouldn’t recommend it. Gave it 1 star on Goodreads.

 

Leggy & Taynement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chick-Lit, Fiction, literary fiction, Nigerian Author, Uncategorized, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat : Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other

 

“… ageing is nothing to be ashamed of
especially when the entire human race is in it together”

Plot: Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve black (save for one), British women. It tells the story of their joys and struggles in navigating the cards dealt to them as they journey through life.

 

Taynement: I started this book right at the start of the pandemic and I became so overwhelmed that I kept starting and stopping before I finally finished it. I’m glad I did.

Leggy: I only read this book for the blog. I had absolutely no interest in it and didn’t even know what it was about till I had to read it at the last minute for this chit chat.

Taynement: I recommended it for the blog because it made Obama’s best books list and it won a Booker prize. I also (as usual) did not know what it was about. I went in blind. It was a pleasant surprise for me that it was about different people. I enjoy stories like that.

Leggy: I think it was super easy for me to get through it because of the structure. I could read about one person, step away and pick it right back up. It’s a very easy book to read in sections.

Taynement: Yeah, it’s not a hard book to read even if it didn’t have punctuation and capitalization for each paragraph.

Leggy: I totally forgot you had warned me about the punctuation before hand so when I downloaded it on my kindle, I thought my library had sent me a badly formatted book. Anyway, what was your favorite and least favorite story?

Taynement: My favorite story was the one with Winsome, the one whose mother was sleeping with her husband and yet she felt smug that she was in a perfect marriage. Other standouts were the story of Bummi (can I just say her spelling this Nigerian women’s name this way kills me) and Dominique in the abusive lesbian relationship.

Leggy: I loved the mother one! That was my absolute favorite because we get her daughter’s story first and she talks about how her mum goes off with her kids and husband on some weekends to give her a break and how amazing her husband is. Then BAM! we get hit by the mother’s story. It was fantastic. I enjoyed it.

Taynement: I was like WHOA because she tells us so casually. It was a one sided crush at first.

Leggy: Really enjoyed Bummi’s story too. I’m super glad she found peace and accepted her daughter’s choices at the end. Also glad her white son-in-law actually turned out to be a good person.

Taynement: But she didn’t herself find peace. Nigerian guilt goes deep. I liked that the author went there with the story.

Leggy: I actually think she did. She seemed quite content at the end. The Morgan/Meghan story was my least favorite. I confess that I skimmed it, it gave me nothing.

Taynement: Yes, I was going to mention that story as my least favorite. It didn’t capture me and I get it was a set up for GG’s story. I will say what I liked about this book is how it was so many things. Many different kinds of women were captured and it explored many themes. I’m not sure how she managed to do it but it worked.

Leggy: Do you think it did too much or just enough?

Taynement: Hmmm, that’s tough because on one hand I liked the freedom having many stories gave, but on the other hand, I will say I’d get confused due to many characters and found myself trying to see how the characters related to each other vs. enjoying the story.

Leggy: I thought it did too much. I think there could have been fewer characters. I think she tried hard to cover a variety of black women and their experience. It got super hard to keep track of who was who and how it all connected. I don’t expect one piece of literature to cover the total experience of a group of very diverse people and I think she tried to do that and it got exhausting after a while. The first 50% of this book was a breeze to read but as I got to the end, I struggled to even care anymore.

Taynement: I did a deep dive on the author and was surprised she is half Nigerian, probably why there were so many Nigerian mentions. Anyway, what was the point of Yazz?

Leggy: She was irritating but she’s also a good representation of a lot of young people growing up in this social media age. They’re sponges. She went to Morgan’s lecture and suddenly started calling herself “non-binary”. She wants to seem enlightened without actually doing any work to support that.

Taynement: Makes sense. Can I just add that there was something I liked about Mrs. King and Carole? Perspective. She legit hated this woman for so many years and it took a chance encounter to realize that Mrs. King saved her life.

Leggy: Carole was so ungrateful and I just don’t understand how she got to that conclusion.

Taynement: You have to remember she had a very traumatic experience and I think it’s so common in life to be so fixated on a story in your head so much you don’t even see the reality.

Leggy: I’m glad she finally met Mrs. King and realized she didn’t have to do all the things she did for her to get her to Oxford.

Taynement: I liked this book but I actually don’t think it’s for everyone. If someone said they didn’t care for it, I could see how. I liked how boldly unapologetic and modern it was and I think Evaristo’s dedication sums it up:

“For the sisters & the sistas & the sistahs & the sistren & the women & the womxn & the wimmin & the womyn & our brethren & our bredrin & our brothers & our bruvs & our men & our mandem & the LGBTQI+ members of the human family.”

Leggy: I agree. I liked it and I think there’s a story for everyone but ultimately, I don’t know who I’d recommend the entire book to. I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads.

Taynement: I agree but overall, worth adding to your TBR list and checking out to see if it would be something you’d like.

 

Leggy & Taynement

 

 

 

Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

The Girl with the Louding Voice

 

Plot: Adunni is a 14 year old Nigerian girl who knows what she wants out of life – an education – but instead, her father sells her off to an old local taxi man as a third wife in exchange for money for his drunken escapades. A sequence of events leads Adunni to escape to the city, where she is forced to live a life of servitude to a wealthy family. This is a story about lack of choices but having a will to survive and come out of the other side with a loud, confident voice and sense of self.

“I want to tell her that God is not a cement building of stones and sand. That God is not for all that putting inside a house and locking Him there. I want her to know that the only way to know if a person find God and keep Him in their heart is to check how the person is treating other people, if he treats people like Jesus says–with love, patience, kindness, and forgiveness.”

 

Taynement: So I don’t remember how I saw this book but I remember texting you immediately that we have to read it.

Leggy: The first time I saw this book was on Book of the Month. I didn’t even read the description. I just saw the Nigerian name and picked it as my book of the month.

Taynement: How did you feel about the book?

Leggy: It took me a while to get into this book because of the way it was written. It was written in the first person narrative form of a semi illiterate girl and it took me a while to find a rhythm.

Taynement: I completely know what you mean. It was definitely a con for me and I think it validates reading vs. audio-ing it. I can’t imagine it on audio. A friend told me she tried the audio but she couldn’t do it.

Leggy: It was very distracting. I dropped this book many times and finished so many books before finally getting through this one. I can’t imagine it on audio either, must be painful to the ears.

Taynement: I really liked this book. I liked it because of the message and because it could have easily been basic but I think Dare wrote it well. She steered away from that.

Leggy: I liked it too but not as much as you did. I gave it 3 stars.

1- Because of the author’s choice to write in the first person narrative voice of the main character, Adunni. Which as I mentioned, she was a semi-illiterate so, it was all in broken English with wrong tenses and words.

2- Because I never fully got into this book. I liked the message, but was never pulled in all the way through. I think I only pulled through because of this chitchat. But when I finished, I messaged a friend of mine to read it because I think it was totally in her wheel house. It just wasn’t in mine.

Taynement: I was pulled into it all the way through. Any book that has me turning the page and I don’t feel it’s a chore, is a win. I honestly think you had a right book, wrong time moment. Okay, let’s talk about the characters.

Leggy: I thought Madam Florence was a caricature. I didn’t find her character real at all. It’s not that I thought she couldn’t exist. What I had a problem with is that, I wish Dare could have made her more complex because at some point, the author wanted us to sympathize with her but I just couldn’t. After all the wickedness, who the hell cares about her feelings. They were beating her and I kept turning the page, with no regard to her feelings. When she went through a whole period of pain and reflection after catching her husband in Adunni’s room, I rolled my eyes so much. I just hated her.

Taynement: Really? I found her very real. In fact she reminds me of someone I know. I never felt like the author wanted us to sympathize with her at any point. She was a horrid person, through and through. Yes, her husband Chief was terrible but she was a monster herself. The forefront emotion I felt reading this book was foreboding. From the minute I started, I just kept waiting for the bad thing to happen. I kept saying: “Nothing good can come out of this”. I hated Adunni’s dad too.

Leggy: Girl especially when Adunni was in that marriage, I had such foreboding. I kept waiting for the ball to drop. I’ve watched enough Nollywood movies to know you don’t just get away unscathed. What did you think of Ms. Tia?

Taynement: I liked her and what she represented,  but I also thought if this was a Hollywood movie she would be the white savior.

Leggy: Yup, I found it weird how after the conversation with Adunni she suddenly wanted children after years of not wanting them. Her whole story line seemed to be rushed.

Taynement: The way I saw it, when her and her husband met, they both didn’t want children but along the way, she changed her mind but didn’t know how to say so. Adunni just somehow bubbled it up to the surface but it was something she’d been thinking about. I guess it would have helped if Dare had fleshed it out more.

Leggy: That makes more sense, I can see that being the case. She was so oyinbo pepper. Anyway, I was super happy with the end. I can’t stand authors who suddenly decide to pull the rug from under your feet after you’ve invested so much time in their story.

Taynement: I agree. One more thing, thoughts on Kofi?

Leggy: I really liked him. He was one of my favorite characters in the book. He was super upstanding and helped Adunni through out her stay in Madam Florence’s house. Also, he was the main person responsible for her happy ending. He’s the one who found the scholarship and encouraged her to apply.

Taynement: I do think the book was a good balance of evil and hope and I do like the idea of the book being a voice for the unheard in Nigeria. The domestic helps who seem invisible but probably have all these hopes and dreams that they aren’t even allowed to have. I can’t imagine being shackled with no choice and having to deal with whatever else comes with that. No food, high chance of sexual abuse, physical abuse and just being treated like crap. Nigerians have this evil and nonchalant behavior towards domestic helps who are mostly young girls brought to serve in households against their will.

Leggy: I agree with you. I do think this book was hopeful and would definitely recommend it.

Taynement: Oooh and I’m here for unapologetic Nigerian authors. I’m seeing way less explanations in books. They’re using words and languages and scenarios without explanations and I find myself wondering less about how western counterparts will interpret thinks. I think it’s great!

“You must do good for other peoples, even if you are not well, even if the whole world around you is not well.”

Taynement & Leggy

 

Book Related Topics, Fiction, We Chit Chat, Young Adult

We Chit Chat -Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise

“Thoughts are often false. A feeling’s always real. Not true, just real”

Plot: In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes while dealing with teenage issues and predatory teachers. 12 years later, they look back on their lives in this performing arts high school and try to dissect what actually happened to them there.

Taynement: It’s been a while since we had a chitchat. We ended up with Trust Exercise because I was seeing it win so many awards

Leggy: You know, I went into this book without reading any description whatsoever because you picked it. I was like Taynement likes plot driven books so this will be good.

Taynement: Ah, is that a first for you? Going in blind, I mean.

Leggy: It’s not a first but I usually read plot blurbs before I pick a book to read, just to see if it’s my cup of tea.

Taynement: Ah okay. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I went in completely blind

Leggy: I kept reading it and when I got to the 20% mark on my kindle, I had to go see what the book was supposed to be about. I just wasn’t getting any consistent plot.

Taynement: I think this was my thought for the entire book. I see what the main theme was but man, it did NOT work for me.

Leggy: I truly thought I was going to give this book 1 star. The beginning just didn’t work for me at all. The middle I liked more when the voice switched to Karen’s. I thought Karen had a stronger voice and point of view than Sarah.

Taynement: So I did this on audio and with each switch I wondered what I missed. It took me a minute to get back into the groove and realize the story switched and it honestly confused me.

Leggy: Karen is the only voice that worked for me and the reason for my one additional star. I thought this book could have been so much more but it’s very obvious it was written for awards. This book was a freaking Pulitzer finalist.

Taynement: The thing is if this book had the main goal of highlighting sexual assault or predators I think it did a piss poor job. I think my issue with this book was it tried to be smarter than itself and ended up all over the place.

Leggy: That’s exactly what I mean by it was written for the awards.

Taynement: I was so confused by their teacher’s story line. I thought it was borderline abuse and predatory but it was so vague I couldn’t tell if it actually was or if it was normal in the theater world. I’m referring to when he made Sarah and David reenact their breakup.

Leggy: I guess the theme seems to be that no one knows what exactly “truth” is. We’re all locked into our own points of view. Everybody has a spin. Sarah and Karen and David all lived the same things but came out of it with completely different views. David became friends with his abuser. Sarah is mad when she sees Mr. Kingsley at David’s show and wonders how David can be friends with him. Sarah portrays Mr. Kingsley as gay but Claire portrays him as extremely straight and masculine.

Taynement: Oooh, that’s an angle I can see. I really do not think this book should be done on audio. I was so disinterested by the characters, I just went through the motions of finishing the book.

Leggy: I think it shows the effects of grooming. They were all being groomed by Mr. Kingsley. In her retelling, Sarah makes Kingsley gay and invents Manuel as a character he was molesting. But then in the second part, Karen tells us it was actually Sarah Mr. Kingsley was having a “special” relationship with. And then Martin grooming Sarah and getting her pregnant. It’s all rife with abuse, different points of view and the subjectivity of truth. But my thing with this book is okay, so what’s the point?

Taynement: Yeah it never really wrapped things up in a clear manner. So you feel like you’re taking this journey and taking in the scenery but you never get to any destination.

Leggy: For such a popular book it barely has 3 stars on good reads. Ordinarily, I enjoy unreliable narrators and narratives and I do think this will make a good book club pick to discuss the subjectivity of truth and what actually happened to those kids in high school but I don’t think it was executed well.

If I wasn’t reading this for a chitchat, I would have dropped it after the first 50 pages. I found the first part of this book overwritten with these huge emotions and I understand that those emotions seemed so huge because they were teenagers. But if you’re going to write from an omniscient point of view and not a first person, then it’s just over written.

Anyway, this book is more fun to discuss with your book people than it is to actually read. My advice? Skip this one. I gave this 2 stars on good reads.

Taynement: The execution was shoddy. I agree, skip it!

 

Leggy & Taynement

We Chit Chat

We ChitChat: “My Sister, the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Image result for my sister the serial killer

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder” 

Taynement: I felt like there was a stretch of time last year when I saw this title everywhere. The Nigerian name caught my eye and I added it to my TBR list.

Leggy: So, what was your first impression of the title?

Taynement: I didn’t think anything of it per se. I think I just assumed it’ll be a book similar to Helen Oyeyemi’s style. Which is funny because I have only successfully finished one Helen Oyeyemi book (I generally find her tedious), so it’s interesting that I still wanted to read this. I’m glad it’s nothing like her work though.

Leggy: It was definitely the title that caught my eye and I thought it would be fantasy or some kind of metaphor but it is actually quite literal. I wanted to read it because a lot of book people were talking about it and it’s on the indie next list so I figured it was worth my time. Also, because I couldn’t find it on the “just released” table at Barnes and Noble and that table usually has everything! So what did you think of the book?

Taynement: I really liked it. I think it was straight to the point, easy read (hovers a little above 200 pages) and enjoyable. It’s a simple story of an older sister, Korede who protects her younger sister, Ayoola (the alleged, more beautiful one) who has a bad habit of murdering her love interests when she tires of them. I enjoyed that it was set in Lagos, Nigeria because knowing how terrible the system is, it made me wonder how a serial killer would fare.

Leggy: Yes, I really liked that it was short. It told a good story in a concise amount of words. It’s an easy read and I was intrigued by the familiar places in Lagos I could recognize. I’ve always thought serial killers would thrive in Nigeria so it was fascinating even watching them try to cover their tracks.

Taynement: Quite honestly, a lot of books could take a cue from that. Strip off all the extras and just dive to the point. But on the flip side, it did have that element of a short story (I hate short stories) where it leaves you unsatisfied as I did not feel we got an understanding as to why Ayoola kept killing these men.

Leggy: I didn’t feel that way at all. It didn’t leave me feeling unsatisfied. She was very clear that she killed the men because they were all terrible and treated women like objects. I think she considered herself some sort of sexist avenging queen. And she managed to convince Korede of that at the end when a male character, Korede thought was a paragon of goodness turned out to be just another man.

Taynement: I also think the author handled the flashbacks very well, weaving the current murders to their childhood and fear of their father.

Leggy: I thought the flashbacks involving their father was so well done, and showed how far back the older sister has been playing protector to her younger sister. I also liked how modern this book was. It incorporated social media in a way that was relevant and not gimmicky. When she writes about how her younger sister has to act on social media to project the grieving girlfriend part. I quite enjoyed the commentary about our social media selves and our real selves.

Taynement: I think it will be nostalgic for a lot of Nigerians – the nosiness of coworkers, the mother obsessed with marriages and many mentions of familiar Nigerian dishes.

Leggy: Definitely – The father who was terrible at home but obsessed with this reputation outside the home, the mother obsessed with marriage for her daughters despite having had a terrible marriage herself etc. I think the writer didn’t try to cater to the western gaze. The writer calls things what they are and instead invites the reader to explore another culture that they might be unfamiliar with in its authenticity.

Taynement: Yes, that was refreshing. It had to have been done well because usually whenever I read foreign books, I wonder how the west would receive it but I actually didn’t wonder about that while reading this book.

Leggy: What did you think of the whole coma story?

Taynement: Earlier, I was going to say that another thing I liked about this book was that it was layered, I think the coma story is an example of that. On one hand, it could be seen as random but I don’t think so. I think it served as an outlet for Korede carrying this huge burden. And the aftermath of the coma as probably a wake up call for her to live a life that isn’t one always borne from a direct comparison to her sister, because she might have her own world where people see her as a star.

Leggy: I just knew he was gonna remember once he woke up, would you have told as the patient?

Taynement: Definitely not. I would have been too freaked out. I think a huge part of this book is Korede easily blaming her sister for everything without acknowledging using her as a shield. She gave up on herself from childhood, and assigned roles – she chose the ugly and protective sister role. She didn’t have to always save her younger sister but she chose to, it was safer for her to live in her sister’s shadow even when she’s murdering her ex-lovers.

Leggy: Did you like how it ended? I was super satisfied with it.

Taynement: I think I was okay with it. I’m not sure I can go into detail without it being a spoiler but I think it was true to how life can be.

Leggy: Would you recommend this book to anyone? I’ve recommended it to so many people. I think it’s a good read and short, so it’s easy to get through.

Taynement: Absolutely! I thought it was a great book and a great intro, if anyone asked for a Nigerian author that isn’t Chimamanda. I also think this would make a good book club pick.

Leggy: I think so too, there are so many layers to discuss and analyze. I gave this 4 stars on good reads.

Let us know what you think in  if you have or when you read the book.

Leggy&Taynement.

Non-Fiction, We Chit Chat

My Day At The 2018 National Book Festival

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Warning: Lengthy and photo heavy post

I am not from the area so I had never heard of this awesome event. A friend mentioned it to me two days before and I knew I had to make my way to it. It had an impressive and robust line up and best of all, it was free!

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It is basically a day long event, held every year in DC, from 8am – 7.30pm that’s all about books. It’s broken out into many different sections by genre such as Teens, Fiction, Science Fiction, Poetry and many more. There are different authors lined up to speak in sessions where they talk about themselves, their book, read excerpts and answer questions from the audience.

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The convention center is so huge that getting from one end to the other was a job in itself. The event does have a substantial number of volunteers who were very helpful in navigating me around. I also downloaded the event app to get alerts on any changes (which happened as Amy Tan subbed for Madeline Albright and I got the alert too late and didn’t make it in to see her) but maps were on hand and signs everywhere.

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My first stop was to see Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage (you can read our review here) and she was hands down the best person I saw that day. The event made me realize that just because you are a writer does not mean you are an eloquent speaker but this does not apply to Jones. She was fantastic and captivated the room and even people who had not read the book were eager to. She shared her struggles in finding an audience and how her life legit changed within a year.

I went up to ask a question and asked if she thought Celestial and Roy would have made it in marriage if he had never gone to jail, she said “who knows? But I think so” but I think she misunderstood my question as she went on to answer how it’s much harder to succeed at any thing being black so having the stigma of a jail sentence would probably have made it harder. I wasn’t going to be the one to correct her in a room full of hundreds.

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Next, I went into the Understanding Our World section as I knew no author in that area. I wandered into Sujatha Gidla’s session. She spoke on her book which is based on the caste system in India and living life as an “Untouchable”. It was an underwhelming session. Her excerpt was so long and she isn’t the best reader and kept stumbling over words. Overall, I left the room with no interest in reading her book, even though it was an interesting subject.

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Roxane Gay looks very uninterested but she was actually a bit funny. Can I also mention every session had an ALS rep signing for people hard of hearing. So cool.

I don’t think I have ever read a graphic novel or comic in my life but I headed over to that section as Roxane Gay was in session and it was about her Black Panther strip. Roxane was herself and as expected an outspoken advocate for black people, women, non size zero and worked that into most of her answers. I was however interested in a comic she said she is working on that features 3 generations of women who become thieves.

I then wandered around to the kids sections and there was a cool parade of states where states had their own booths and kids were given a map and they could go from booth to booth to get their maps stamped.

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View from the top for the passport of states
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I thought New Mexico had a cool aesthetic

 

If you have been reading this blog you know that I do not buy books as mentioned here so I had no business being at the book signings but I snuck in to take some pics.

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Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko
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Amy Tan best known for Joyluck Club

I was really looking forward to seeing Celeste Ng as I have just read Little Fires Everywhere which I absolutely loved (here). The room was packed so I didn’t get a good seat like the other ones and she seemed nice but she wasn’t a really captivating speaker. My friend wasn’t convinced to read her book.

Her session was moderated by Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty (which I didn’t think was a very good book, seemed like a man imagining how women operate) and although her book centered around race and was expected it took over a huge portion of the conversation which was good and bad because Alam did say he didn’t want to make her reductive to just race but proceeded to do just that. I did like a line she said where she said if there is anything she is an advocate of, she is an advocate of empathy.

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Overall, although long, I think it was well worth it. I like how inclusive the event was and when I say inclusive, I mean in all ways. It warmed my heart to see kids and their parents, just happy to be around books and an event for them to do with their parents. There were a lot of diversity with authors of color and women fully represented. There was even a booth that shared info on the National Library for The Blind and Handicapped.

It’s a cool way to also learn things and expand your mind on things you have never thought about. Seeing authors beyond the characters they put on paper is also an experience. So basically, if this ever rolls around in your area I’d recommend you attending and experiencing it for yourself.

Let me know if you have any questions and in the mean time…more pictures!

 

Taynement

 

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One of the lines
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One of the kid authors
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PBS was on hand doing interviews
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Snuck a pic of Madeleine Albright as she waited for her interview. She had just come from John McCain’s funeral.
We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: Reading Goals Check-In + A GIVEAWAY!

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At the very beginning of the year, we talked about our reading intentions for the year. In the spirit of accountability, we decided to do a check-in to see where we all are in our reading for the year. Think of it as encouragement if you are lagging behind or kudos if you are right on track.

Leggy: How’s your reading been so far?

Taynement: Frustrating. I’m tired of being disappointed. I can’t say that I’ve read a lot of great books yet this year and that makes me not so eager to read because I don’t want to face disappointment again. I need to do better with my choices. How about you?

Leggy: Yeah, it’s been a crappy year for me as well. The only non fantasy book I’ve given above 3 stars is Everything Here is Beautiful and We’re Going to Need more Wine. I haven’t read any literary fiction that has blown my mind this year, I have way too many 2 and 3-star books on Goodreads.

Taynement: An American Marriage is my only 4-star book so far. I did like that one.

Leggy: Do you think this year has just been a crappy book year or we’re not finding the right books for us?

Taynement: I’m going to go with a combination of our book choices and hyped books not meeting our expectations. I’m pretty sure there are loads of books that are good that just aren’t buzz books, so we’ve overlooked them. The disadvantage of reading books I don’t care for is that, it slows me down immensely as it takes me longer to finish.

Leggy: Me too and at the end I’m just sad.

Taynement: What has been your least favorite book so far?

Leggy: I haven’t really hated any book this year. I have a shit ton of 2 and 3-star, really average, not even worth hating books and you know I love to hate books. What about you?

Taynement: My least favorite book so far has been Windfall by Jennifer Smith. Terrible YA, terrible audiobook narrator. On the bright side though, I think I fed off your reading goal and I have somehow read a number of books with Black characters. 5 of my 12 books have met that description.

Leggy: I feel like every book we’ve read together has been written by a Black author and all women too. I’ve been killing my reading goal this year. I’ve read 29 books so far but I always start off strong and then taper off towards the end of the year so we’ll see how this year ends. I’ve also started The Count of Monte Cristo. That book is huge but I’m really enjoying it. It’s absolutely readable for a book that was written in 1844 . Any books you’re looking forward to reading?

Taynement: Not really. But I do have a saved reading list and two recommendations that comprise of mostly Asian authors. I’ve come to the realization that I have an affinity for Asian authors. I almost always like their works. So I’ll say I have hopes of breaking the “meh” book streak with them.

Leggy: I told you you’d like Everything Here is Beautiful. Asian author too. Deals with mental health, immigration, family. I quite enjoyed it.

Taynement: Yeah, it’s on my list. One last thing is, I’ve surprised myself by committing to a YA trilogy – two things I claim not to like (YA and trilogy books) It’s The Thousandth Floor series. I quite like it. Looking forward to the last book. It’s not a great book but I enjoy it.

Leggy: Cool. So what are you currently reading? I’m working through two books – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman and hoping to start Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi soon.

Tayenment: Currently making my way through The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and hope to pick up AND commit to reading Freshwater again, this time.

Image result for amazon $50 gift card

On to the fun part!

As a thank you for supporting us and as encouragement to keep up the good work and keep reading, we are giving away an Amazon gift card so you can knock some books off your TBR list. All you have to do is:

  1. Follow us on Twitter (@2nightstands) OR Instagram (@nightstands2). If you are already doing that, then you’re a rock star and you just have to do #2.
  2. Leave a comment on this post letting us know what your favorite book of the year is, so far. Don’t forget to leave your handle when you do this so you can be contacted to get your email address if you win.

The winner will be mentioned in next week’s post. So, make sure to check back on Monday, May 7 to see if you won! Feel free to tweet us if you have any questions.

Have a lovely week and Happy Reading!

Leggy & Taynement

Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

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But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”

Taynement: So what did you think?

Leggy: I thought it was okay.

Taynement: Wow. Just okay? I absolutely loved it

Leggy: I have to say. I really didn’t like the blurb the publishers wrote for this book. I hate that they told us exactly what was going to happen so I spent like the first 50 pages just waiting for the “event”. It made my reading experience seriously unbearable.
You know I had the hardcover so the blurb was literally there. I didn’t even go seeking any spoilers

Taynement: Oh per usual, I didn’t read one. Well I’ve always said that you’re a destination vs. the journey person. Because, I don’t think the actual event and circumstance mattered and was more about everyone’s reactions to it. What I loved about the book is that as I get older I’ve been saying how human relations can be so complicated and I think she captured it with this story. The complexity of it all, especially within a marriage.

Leggy: I had intense anxiety just waiting for the event to happen. I was literally like “here it comes, here it comes”. Anyway, what did you think of their marriage before the event? Did you think they were even going to make it even if the event never happened?

Taynement: I don’t think we had enough information to know if they would or not. Roy came off as a fuckboy, albeit a reformed one, but they did seem to have a connection.

Leggy: He really did. I didn’t quite like him

Taynement: Even though, as we got to know him better, he seemed like the embodiment of “masculinity so fragile”

Leggy: Yes, there were so many moments I was just like “screw this guy”

Taynement: But here’s where I give kudos to the writer. It was a complicated scenario. Yes he was in jail but they all knew he was innocent and that has to be the worst thing ever. I give kudos because I could see both sides. I certainly didn’t expect him to be rational.

Leggy: I know the author made it clear to us that he was innocent right from the beginning but a part of me only 100% believed it right at the end when he made that gesture. It redeemed him in my eye and I thought that was the absolute best way to resolve the situation

Taynement: Him not being innocent would have been such a cheap twist to have.

Leggy: What did you think of Andre? Were you ever mad at him at some point? Did you ever agree with Celeste’s father?

Taynement: I didn’t like Andre. I really thought the whole thing was a dick move. And I just saw him as a weak man

Leggy: I hated him so much, What a weak man! You had all your life to get with her.
All your damn life and you waited till this situation happened? I agreed with her dad.

Taynement: I’m trying not to give spoilers but I don’t even care that he’d loved her this whole time. So it was circumstantial love?

Leggy: He’s an arsehole. God and then that whole thing about going to talk to him first to inform him? That was such a dick move. Celeste owed him that trip, she should have been the one to tell him first. I was just disgusted with the both of them for that

Taynement: Roy Snr. for the win, btw! Anyway, If Celeste was as fierce and independent as they intended her to be she wouldn’t have been in this pickle, she came off as unsure. But then I thought of the speech her dad gave her saying she was one of those “lucky” people who’ve never been through much.

Leggy: That’s why her arse thinks she’s so strong and independent when she’s just playing at it

Taynement: Oh there was something I really liked about the couple. Where people have a safe word for sex. I liked that they had a safe word for when their fights were getting too intense. They really seemed to love each other. But it was so new, so who knows if it was young love.

Leggy: Yes, loved that! I’m going to adopt that. I think Roy was just impressed with her and her family. I don’t think they were suited but who knows? What did you think of the whole situation with Davina?

Taynement: I thought him and Davina were convenient, but I liked it. Also, about just being impressed by her family pedigree, that’s a possibility. Roy seemed like he was fighting himself. One of those African Americans who thought themselves bougie because they are educated with money in the pocket, when he was just a big ball of insecurity.
I won’t mention some of the harsh things he wrote in his letters to Celestial but I noted two quotes after his release that showed the kind of man he is. First when he is trying to win her back and he says “Ask me and I’ll forgive you” I’m like excuse you?

Leggy:Omg!! I caught this too. It infuriated me. Like what?!!! You were gone for five years and you need to forgive her? The nerve!

Taynement: And second, when he thought “I swear I didn’t want to hurt Celestial but I needed to know if I could”. This goes back to what I meant about this book encapsulating all of human complexities. There were a lot of emotions and common human feelings expressed so well. I feel like in the hands of a less skilled author, this book could easily have been a mess. There were like 500 different stories going. Family secrets included and not one time did it feel convoluted

Leggy: I think this book would be fantastic for a book club (coincidentally Oprah just made this part of her book club). So many themes to explore and discuss
Is this the author’s first book?

Taynement: Nope. Apparently she has 3 other books. I guess this book helps with your reading goal on reading more African American and female writers that you mentioned here. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an adult book for lack of a better word. Always good when a book meets it’s hype.

Leggy: Yes, it definitely does. I’m conflicted on this book. Discussing it with you now I’m totally on board and I’m talking about all these layers and human complexities, but when I step away from it I feel a tad bit underwhelmed? I feel like I need to sit with this for a few more days but anyway for now, I gave it three stars and would definitely recommend. Also, can I just say that the cover is absolutely GORGEOUS in person?

Taynement: It is? nice. I gave it four stars.

Let us know your thoughts if you’ve read it. We’d appreciate your comments!

 

Taynement & Leggy