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 

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

😎

Oh,so you are romantic?

Nothing beats reading a good romance novel.

I tell you, even The Beast fell for Belle and Prince Eric got Ariel without singing (thank you Disney, Prince Eric is the only Prince in the fairy tales who doesn’t sing,saves the spotlight for that crab, Sebastian,under the sea )

Have you ever had someone reading over your shoulder? I don’t know about which location you are in as you read this,but in Kenya it happens. Someone stretches their neck towards that paper you are reading in a matatu or that woman seated next to you looks as you answer a text. Seriously, why is it always old women who help you read and answer chat messages in matatus?

I was reading this steamy romance:

Now, Jackie Ashenden tells a wicked story about a dictator of a Sheikh,named Zakir who comes across this woman, Felicity, her company develops and sells software. He kidnaps her mistaking her vehicle for another one belonging to a Princess and what results is a passion like no other. It made me burn onions the first time I read it and the second time I missed my stop while in the matatu. But, I’m getting to that, settle in your seat peaches!

So, I get into a matatu at rounda just near the Jomo Kenyatta Sports Grounds in Kisumu and sit by the window. I take out my tab and scroll through my carousel of ebooks and settle on this book. I take out twenty shillings and hand it to the tout just in case I forget and get cosy to this book. 5% into the book, I hear a snort, more like a suppressed bout of either scornful remarks or anger. I turn and catch the eyes of a man. Dark, an eighty percent chance of sideburns that need a trim,his eyes are sinking into mine but he cranes his neck towards my tablet and smiles. Clean teeth. Neatly arranged like he bought his dentist a plot, but he says “niaje,” in a mild voice like he broke it last decade, he’s still refining it. That or he has a cold.

“Poa,” I croak out. Two frogs have met.

“Naona unasoma romance, so what is it with ma kina Danielle Steel na Sidney Sheldon that madame who like? Kwanza that Sheikh is rude to that Chile mbona anamgive time yake?”

Pause. Place a bookmark. Breathe in. Indulge a muggle.

I think of how to answer him, he must be in his late twenties because they are the people who know about Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon. I am about to tell him that  those are not the only romance writers in the world. I am about to toot my horn and ask if he’s heard of me, but neither introductions nor marketing are needed here. He stretches out his hand and says “James, nice to meet you, so you are romantic?”

I am a hopeless romantic, you have no idea! But before I croak out another response the matatu comes to a stop, a lady alights outside Kisumu Girls High school and he steps down and takes the seat beside me. “So, nashuka kondele, how does that story end?”

“Nashuka karibu but we can read now that umejua story, or I can tell you the title uende ukajisomee.”

“Sina tablet.”

“No, you don’t need one, with Amazon Kindle you just need an email address and uko sorted. You can read it on your phone or PC bila stress.”

“Ni sawa,I don’t read books sana.”

“But you were just reading what I am reading?”

“Yes, and trust me, I never do such a thing! It’s like it just happened plus I saw this shirtless jamaa and it’s good to know what ladies dig. Dating game ni noma kiasi.”

I shake my head and continue reading with the tablet between us. When I lift my head we are driving past Jalaram hospital and I think,we just passed my stop! Now I will have to alight at Kibuye. I reach out and tap the tout, “kibuye!”I say and he nods and I turn to meet James’ eyes again. ” Unashuka?”

“Ehe,Kibuye.”

“Ni sawa but does the guy get the girl?”

“He does, most romance novels have happy endings.”

” Hiyo ni poa, otherwise thanks. Siku ingine.” The matatu comes to a stop at Kibuye and I alight. James waves at me and the tout smiles as the car drives off. I look at the stretch ahead of me and think of just how much I’d give to have those Ice za five five! A cold block of colored water to chill my insides. Even as I wonder about all the stuff that have happened to me in a matatu, I cannot help but wonder just how taken I was by Ashenden’s book.

My TBR list

Have you read Lucy’s post on Hard Book Habit today?

Something along the lines of Get a Move On!

It inspired me to clean out my library, to delve into memories and pages and dust as though I was looking for treasure. No book wants to be in the TBR list, which simply means To Be Read, but I am not a book, rather I am a Writer- and it would kill me to know someone bought my book and has been keeping it in this list.

So, here’s the deal, if you have written any of these books I will do them justice. I have read some chapters of these books, all but The Honeymoon by Justin Haythe, which I am reading again just cause I want to. They have officially moved from my TBR list to my bedside table pile-and they have already caused my younger sister some pain on her knee, but no worries.

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Thanks Lucy for sharing your post today!

Books to Read in 2016

I love reading books but not as much as buying them.
It is a known fact to my family that I judge supermarkets here in Kenya by how spacious their stationery and books aisle is. If it has a floor dedicated to books and stationery, it’s the best. I am yet to find that kind of supermarket though.
So, there was an offer on Books first where I buy most of my books,and this is my to-read list of 2016:

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Before I Forget by Andre Brink
Ancestral Vices by Tom Sharpe
A way through the mountains by Elizabeth McGregor
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
The Bird Woman by Kerry Hardie
Vienna Blood by Frank Tallis
The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Foreign Fruit by Jojo Moyes
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell
And God created the Australian Pair by Benedicte Newland and Pascale Smets

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Books for my Daughter to read.

I’m single and still haven’t had child, but I love reading and I hope my daughter will someday find comfort and travel between the pages of books.

So, don’t burst my bubble like my friend Grace by asking, “what if you have a son?”

Well, let’s work with a dream? But, one thing is certain, if she’s a girl she’ll have to take up the name Aurora, and if he’s a boy then I’m going with Raphael.

So, given my expectations, here are the books I hope my daughter would read.

100_2637I’ll introduce her to The Shadow of the Wind where she’ll walk into The Cemetery of Forgotten Books with Daniel. Get her on a Night Train to Lisbon and walk her through every room in The Glass Palace.

100_2634There will be plenty more time to go back in time in Valerio Massimo Manfredi’s books who was born on the same date and month as me. Cool right?

And she’ll shake her head or roll her eyes, “not cool mom.”

If she develops a taste for mystery and solving crimes I’ll give her a serving of Arthur Conan Doyle’s works and then gift her with my collection of Michael Conelly’s books.

If she develops sense of beauty and understanding for fellow humans and finds herself caught between her thoughts and pleasing her friends I’ll bring in the Brit, Alan Hollinghurst and have her read Julia Alvarez for courage and conviction.

100_2630But, I’m getting ahead of myself like I always do.

What if she doesn’t like to read? Or what if she loves to dance or sketch or sleep or watch movies, what then? Well, I have a collection of books from my favorite African authors through to ebooks on Kindle. I do not know what my child would enjoy reading, but from the time he/she speaks and learns to write there’s always time to discover-no pressure.

I’ll just have to remember the “no pressure” part.

All in all, my collection awaits.

Things to do by the end of this month…or next month.

  1. Read The Help by Kathryn Stockett index
  2. Visit and volunteer at the New Life Children’s Ministry Home- here in Kisumu.
  3. Finish writing #Wind.
  4. Start working on the complete outline of #Twende. It’s a romance story that’s long overdue (hint hint)
  5. Try walking down some stairs with my hands in my pocket.
  6. Go a day without listening to One direction and Ed Sheeran
  7. Walk into Cerova (yeah- that restaurant in Mega Plaza) and order a plate of chips masala+soda+fried chicken – and finish it!
  8. Buy three different brands of sharpeners! And write reviews about them.
  9. Go take pictures by the lakeside.
  10. Walk backwards in the house for one hour on any Saturday morning!
  11. Skip for twenty five minutes straight!
  12. Make a podcast.
  13. Make a thirty-second video