Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

NetGalley has been good to me. I was hesitant when I first received the recommendation from Goodreads to sign up and get to read books in exchange for a review. I thought, “why ask for books just to review them?”

Then the gods of literature struck and I was working in Kisumu and couldn’t find alternative sources of buying books. I was in a literal dry spell and my mind was asking to be nourished by something, so I signed up and since then I’ve read 47 books off NetGalley. I’ve come to know of authors whom I’ll always keep an eye out for like Clar Ni Chonghaile, Timothy Ogene, and now Akwaeke Emezi.

So, my NG experience aside, let me tell you about Akwaeke’s book called Freshwater!

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

This book held me captive till the very end.
The story follows Ada, a child who upon birth is believed to possess two spirits inside her. As she grows, she’s both sweet and volatile, something that is not known to everyone for her spirits take charge each seeking to meet their own selfish needs.
The author molds a story that is both candid and incomplete for she uses mysticism to weave an understanding of mental illness. You feel as though you are the spirits inside Ada, and you are also an outsider observing Ada which made this book irresistible.
When Ada struggles to come to terms with what’s happening inside her mind, they remind her that she is them and they are her.
Sectioning the Ada gave her isolated pockets of memory, each containing a different version of her. There were versions to whom bad things had happened and, therefore, there were versions of her to whom these things had not happened. This terrified her, because if there were so many of her,then which one was she?
I love how the voice of each of the gods within Ada was firm. There was a certain dominance and certainty to them that made me await the awakening of Ada. I was reading this and when I got to Chapter Twenty, all I could keep saying was “come on Ada, get up Ada!”
It is at exactly that moment that I read this When you break something, you must study the pattern of the shattering before you can piece it back together. So it was with the Ada. She was a question wrapped up in breath: How do you survive when they place a god inside your body?

There is a phrase in the book that goes First feed your gods which I found to be remarkable simple but the weight of it stayed with me. If there’s anything that I learned from this book is that people are as unique as they come and no matter how many voices speak up or demand attention in your head, in that shattering moment, you are still the one who counts. Finding out how to make it count is what matters.

Check out her website for more at: http://www.akwaeke.com/

Her story “Who is like God?” clinched the 2017 Commonwealth Short story Prize from Africa: read it here

I’d like to thank Grove Atlantic, Grove Press and NetGalley for the advance copy, for it’s been a refreshing read.

TMI:

Drinking: Tea (my second cup of the day)

Listening to: Lust for Life by Lana Del Ray

Hooked to: Elevation Church sermons (I listen to a sermon every night before I sleep)

Currently reading: Mother of Pearl by Melinda Haynes

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert

Let’s face it, my first week of August has been awesome largely due to great books. Yesterday I was going on about Rain Falls on Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile.

Today it’s Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert. After reading Eat, Pray, Love- I was content to read this book because I was eager to know more about Elizabeth and Felipe, how did it turn out for her? Did she commit after swearing off marriage? Did she come to find what she was looking for? (Yes,we all know that I am a hopeless romantic, hence my desire to finally buy a little black dress:-) )

So, here’s the thing about Committed, unlike the first book, this one is downright entertaining. I loved her research into marriage in various cultures and the roles that women and men played in this institution. 

I also loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter and I’m noting them down for future conversation starters!

Be of love (a little)/ more careful/ than of everything else. E. E. Cummings

A man can be happy with any woman as long as he does not love her. Oscar Wilde

Marriage is a friendship recognised by the police. R. L. Stevenson

It’s been a productive day for me and any day that begins with time spent at Java is always an awesome day for me! I am looking forward to casting my vote tomorrow and hoping all the other voters make an informed decision that would see Kenya prosper. I am also moving on to the next book which happens to be Alexander by Valerio Massimo Manfredi.

Yeah, Manfredi is my absolute favorite because his retelling of legends always has that extra spice to it, it’s like the perfect serving of curry! So, I can’t wait to get started on this.

Have a great afternoon.

TMI

Listening to: Long Live the Angels by Emeli Sande

Currently reading: 19 Souls by J. D. Allen.

Drinking: Water 

Rain Falls on Everyone by Clar Ni Chonghaile

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About the book: Theo, a young Rwandan boy fleeing his country’s genocide, arrives in Dublin, penniless, alone and afraid. Still haunted by a traumatic memory in which his father committed a murderous act of violence, he struggles to find his place in the foreign city. Plagued by his past, Theo is gradually drawn deeper into the world of Dublin’s feared criminal gangs. But a chance encounter in a restaurant with Deirdre offers him a lifeline. Theo and Deirdre’s tender friendship is however soon threatened by tragedy. Can they confront their addictions to carve a future out of the catastrophe that engulfs both their lives?

If there’s one book you ought to read in 2017, it’s this one. I am not saying so because it deeply moved me, or because the folks at NetGalley were so smitten with me that they approved my request to read it, but because Clar (I love you Clar) delivers grief, turmoil, nostalgia, fear, anger, loss and love in crisp tones.

It’s like being at a karma restaurant where you get what you deserve and more often than not, Writers underrate readers when it comes to serving up truth and pain. Clar’s characters do not make excuses (even though Dierdre does for her husband every time his fists find a home on her body) when it comes to baring their flaws and working through their muddled life.

From the beginning, you know that Theo’s a good guy and as you read on, you wish him the best. You want him find a way out of the mess he’s in, but what edged me on was that at no point did I pity the characters. It was almost as though they were telling me “you can empathize, but please, save your pity for another book,” and in their speech you’d sense some kind of toughness. I don’t know much about the Irish, but like Theo, in reading this I felt as though his stay in both Rwanda and Ireland had their fair share of violence. In Rwanda, it was uncalled for. He did not ask for the genocide to take place, but with the drug business in Ireland, he was definitely the one who knocked and asked to be let in.

This book did a number on me and if you are thinking what I think you’re thinking, No, I did not cry! I wish I did because there were moments when reading it felt like watching a thriller, but no I did not. A few lines and scenes stuck to me like glue, so, I’ll share them:

“In the real world, goodbyes happened when you weren’t paying attention.”

Theo saying:

“I’m feckin’ over the moon that a family found me in the bush and taught me how to hide up to my eyes in the mud. For hours, Dierdre, staying absolutely still and listening to the screams as they found other people and butchered them. So, no, I don’t take it for granted. For years, after that, I was still just trying to stay alive, trying to get up every day and keep breathing. Do you know how hard it is to do that sometimes?…I’d survived, I knew I’d made it, and then I didn’t know what to do with that.”

On the other hand, there is a sense of “I hear you” that I have when I come across any book that mentions Kenya or East Africa. It’s like coming home or being home when I read such books, and this feeling is not lost on me as I share my views on this book. I believe it made me read it closely looking out for any mistakes or falsification of events, and I did not come across any of it here.

It’s 142 days give or take to Christmas, until then you’ve got to read this book.

Like the title, Rain does indeed fall on everyone and sometimes those who are lucky enough to seek shelter cannot pretend that they were never soaking wet.

Where to get the book:

Amazon

Author’s site: https://clarnichonghaile.wordpress.com/

 

$2 books on Amazon that I want to read

There’s nothing like ‘enough books.’

I love both print and eBooks and it’s because of my love for Kindle that sent me straight to the Kindle Store in search of books under two dollars ($2).

Here’s what I have so far:

  1. Eve of a Hundred Midnights by Bill Lascher: $1.99

Eve of a Hundred Midnights: The Star-Crossed Love Story of Two WWII Correspondents and Their Epic Escape Across the Pacific by [Lascher, Bill]

2. The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck: $1.99

The Wedding Dress by [Hauck, Rachel]

3. The Professor by Robert Bailey : $0.99

The Professor (McMurtrie and Drake Legal Thrillers Book 1) by [Bailey, Robert]

4. Everything We Keep by Kerry Lonsdale: $1.99

Everything We Keep: A Novel by [Lonsdale, Kerry]

5. The Sapphire Heist by Lauren Blakely : $2.00

The Sapphire Heist (A Jewel Novel Book 2) by [Blakely, Lauren]

I’m keeping my eyes on these five titles for now, I am crossing my fingers that the price of “Everything we Keep” does not go up before my pay day! It’s my #BirthdayMonth and I am looking to indulge in some new books and thrills!

Have you read these books? Which one would you recommend and are there any books I’m missing out on?

 

The Instagram Book tag

I saw this on The Happiest Pixel and let’s just say that her answers got me thinking I could do the same. For that Instalove and reading books, let’s do this!

Feed: Many people give a special theme to their Instagram feeds or none at all. Are most of the books you read the same genre or do you like to mix it up?
I love a good romance and I have often leaned towards that genre, but I do mix things up with some YA and Literary Fiction. I have never developed the taste for Sci-Fi but I’ll tweak them soon enough.

Filter: Most Instagrammers often put filters onto their photos to make them look vibrant and beautiful. Name a book with a stunning cover.

Following: On Instagram, users follow others to see what they post and basically for a little mash-up of their lives. Name a book character whose steps you always enjoy following.

I am not following anyone’s steps in a series, but while we are at it- I would love to read J.R.Ward’s ‘The Bourbon Kings.’

Image courtesy of Pinterest

Followers: Many celebrities have millions of Instagram followers. Name a hyped-up book read by thousands that you were hesitant to read, but ended up devouring.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. I mean, who wouldn’t love Jace’s wit and sarcasm?

Direct message: DMs are often used to send pictures found on Instagram to others or simply just to chat. Name a book you always recommend to others.

Arrow of God by Chinua Achebe

Bio: Instagram bios can be up to 150 characters long and can be sued to give some general information about yourself. Name a book with a catchy blurb that hooked you in.

“Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is the ‘Cemetery of Forgotten Books.’ –The Shadow of the Wind, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Unfollow: Sometimes you’ll like someone’s feed at first but then you lose interest and decide to unfollow them. Name a book you liked at first, but over time, the love wore off.

Demon Kissed by H.M.Ward

Notifications: Whether you admit it or not, everyone loves and waits anxiously to see the pink notification button pop up at the bottom of their Instagram feed. Name an unreleased book that you have been anxiously waiting.

None at the moment.

Hashtag: Many Instagrammers use hashtags to get their photos out there, or just for fun. Create yourself a booksihs tag! It could be anything from just your blog’s name to something crazy spectacular!

#kitabunilichoandika #suchanawesomebook #kenyanstory

Story: Many Instagrammers love using Instagram’s story feature to let their followers know what they are currently up to. Name a book you are currently reading!

I’m reading ” The Emperor’s Bones” by Adam Williams

Tag: Many people tag friends in their photos because they were together when the picture was taken, or simply just because. Tag 5 awesome bloggers that you’d like to see take on this tag!

Kerry’s Blog

Elly

Jagweng

La Music Junkie ☺

Hot cup of books

😎

Review: The Story of Beautiful Girl

I have never heard of Rachel Simon. So, imagine going to buy books and seeing one sticking out and it is titled “The Story of Beautiful Girl,” and you think…well, is it not supposed to be ‘a beautiful girl,’ or ‘the beautiful girl?’ So, you pick it and read the blurb:

It is 1968, Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in the School for the Incurable and Feebleminded, and have been left to languish in the institution, forgotten. Deeply in love, they escape and find refuge in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. But the couple is not alone-Lynnie has just given birth to a baby girl. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. Before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: “Hide her.”

beauty

Lynnie’s story begins the moment she trusts Martha with her baby girl that night. She is taken back to the institution and her favorite attendant, Kate, notices the change in her and this sets the pace for a long term friendship and trust. According to The Washington Post, this book is “heart-wrenching,” but it’s more of an eye-opener. There are institutions for people with disabilities and more often than not, there have been cases of neglect, abuse and even mismanagement of resources. However, what Rachel succeeds in this book is to show the reader that Homan is deaf, but he has feelings and knows right from wrong. He escapes with Lynnie to protect her baby. Lynnie has a developmental disability but she loves her daughter and is willing to entrust her to an old widow, Martha, because she wants her child to be loved and not raised in an institution.

Inasmuch as I would have loved to read about the reunion of Lynnie and her child, I would still admit that the story will break your heart and slowly assemble the pieces together without you knowing where that strength and relief came from.

Visit Rachel’s site for more on this book: here

The Angel’s Game

The first time I walked the streets of Barcelona was in August 2013. I remember turning that first page of The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon and walking into The Cemetery of Forgotten Books with little Daniel and his Father, Mr. Sempere.

So, when I came across a copy of The Angel’s Game lying on the bookshelf at Booksfirst, I simply picked it and held onto it all the way to the cashier. I could not wait to walk those streets again but better yet, I missed The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, imagine walls upon walls stacked with books so precious that they have to be protected by readers.

For three days I sat down to read The Angel’s Game.

caros

We are introduced to David Martin who writes pulp fiction for years. He comes across an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona and decides to reside in it because he’always felt like the house called unto him, but his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem , because the house he calls home harbors a secret and an unsolved mystery. When he thinks he’s had enough of his life and writing struggles with his selfish publishers, he receives an offer from a French Editor. It’s the offer of a lifetime, but what’s the price he would pay?

His task is to write one book, a book with the power to change hearts and minds. But as he begins writing, he realizes that there is a connection between the book and the dark shadows that surround his home…and that’s when things go south.

I was immersed in this book for the first half. Mr. Zafon’s writing is clear and slow, like listening to the tales from an elder every evening, and the discussions on human nature and his ability to believe is strong. When David and his boss talk of writing this one powerful book you feel the tug of war between David’s hopes and writing ability and the man’s desire to see his will done by David. It is full of humor and takes a sharp turn in portraying the relationship between Writers and Publishers and how works by Writers are received. As a Writer, I was sold upon reading the first line of this book:

A Writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story.

The downside to this was that I did not pay attention to the details like confirming the events, names or places and the fine stuff. It was great to visit the Cemetery of Forgotten Books again with David giving intricate descriptions of the place and his relationship with Mr. Sempere made this an enjoyable read. It’s a mystical read with characters as flawed as they are beautiful.

It goes to my library as I seek out the final book in the series “The Prisoner of Heaven.”

 

 

A copy of Roses and Lies

dora okeyo

I wrote a short story about life in Nairobi for a young advocate who finds himself in Parliament. Allan is at his prime when he is invited to the State House to meet with an honorable member. They need him to find a solution to their problem, before he knows it, he is tethered with a rope around his neck like a goat. Question is, who is watching and why?

You can download a free copy: here

Reading Vienna Blood by Frank Tallis

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It’s often said that sometimes when you fall, you fall hard. There are some books that make you fall hard, and the best part is that you have no regrets as a reader. When you get that book that takes you on a journey like no other, you find yourself on a high.
The first time I saw ‘Vienna Blood’ by Frank Tallis on the shelves, I thought it had the whole Sherlock vibe to it and even as I reached out to get it, I felt like it would take me to the 1900s. It took me to 1902.

Summary: A serial killer embarks upon a bizarre campaign of murder in the winter of 1902 in Vienna. Bodies are mutilated, arcane symbols are found in crime scenes and the victims are as random as they come. Detective Inspector Rheinhardt summons a young disciple of Freud, his friend, Dr. Max Liebermann to assist him with the case.

The book is 476 pages of clues and mysteries.
Mr. Tallis definitely did his research on Sigmund Freud because everything about the Professor is spot on, from his smoking and his take on Dream Interpretation.
Having a background in psychology, reading this book was like dying a sweet death and ,meeting Freud on a regular basis. It was heaven!

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Favorite passage: Oskar, it has been an extraordinary night and if am unable to find a coffeehouse in the next half hour, I swear I shall expire.– Liebermann

Favorite scene: Has to be when Professor Freud makes an appearance, I reckon I’ve shared a screenshot up there.

Favorite character: Hausmann who happens to be the assistant detective who cannot hold a tune! I loved how hard he tried to keep up and present himself as a great partner in this book, made him more relatable.

This book is evenly paced and if there is one thing I learned from this story is how great research can build a story. Delving deeper into history is not easy, and writing about it is even harder because if you miss a fact or you misrepresent a fact it could ruin the story. Mr. Tallis was point on with his research, so much so that I enjoyed reading the story and felt comfortable with the flow. If you love classical music and operas, then you’d not miss Mozart here.

If I were to rate this book in terms of Smileys: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂