Author: Adaeze Feyisayo Samuel

Amethyst Saw is the pen name of a Nigerian biblophile. Amethyst is a bookie, writer and curator of African literature. On days she's not resisting her chocolate and ponmo addiction. Amethyst is bookstagramming eye catching, themed book photos.

CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE

OCHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE BY TOMI ADEYEMI

“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war. I give you the strength to fight, but you all must learn the strength of restraint.”

“When your opponent has no honor, you must fight in different ways, smarter ways.”

Many bookstagram reviews of this international bestselling YA Fantasy all put the first quote without its accompanying second sentence on strength. This sentence cautions restraint, without it things can go wrong. Gosh! I’m enchanted by this novel. The last time I read fantasy that resonated this much with me was with Georgina Kincaid and her Succubus series by Richelle Mead and Carter and Sade Kane of the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan  I dropped reading A Thousand Beginnings and Endings and Meet Cute (Young Adult Fiction collections) to read Children of Blood and Bone during the last week of July. I’d wanted to read some different after a long stressful day.

If you peer closely you’ll see small drops of ogogoro in my mini mug. I sipped that shot like Zelie in celebration of the victorious last sentences.

A world of magical wonders and brutal realities..Orisha. The narrative introduces one to the new Orisha where magic is missing and Zelie’s biggest worries include passing initiation and taxes. The old Orisha had Majis who were white-haired, Orisha Mama’s magic blessed, children of blood and bone. It’s amazing the fantasy woven around the Orisha gods was inspired by Yoruba deities. I kept nodding to the various magical powers each maji clan possessed from their sister goddesses and brother gods. Reapers who summoned souls, Tiders and Yemoja, Burners who blazed fiery, Healers and Cancer, and Seers. When various characters touch with a magic scroll it sparks magic in Divîners and Kosidans alike. You can take a quiz to find out which clan you belong to here.

This heroine’s narrations are shadowed by fearful memories of her mother’s execution and past beauties of magical Orisha. I was always pulled away from these to her meagre existence. Yet Zelie had a strong drive for survival and freedom. Zelie is impulsive, silver-eyed beauty, gifted Reaper, smart, seasoned trader, skilled fighter, leader and compassionate heroine. Amari and Inan, both children of the tyrant king narrate the plot with Zelie on a quest to return magic to Orisha. One of the beautiful things about these characters describing the plot and other characters were their unique personas. Growth of Zelie, Amari and Inan occurred slowly throughout the novel. Amari, the scared Princess grew bravely to be the Lionaire. Inan, Little Prince who sacrificed everything to be everything his cruel father wanted. He struggled with his sense of duty and being himself. Tzain, Mama Agba, Kaea, Nailah, Zu, Baba, Roën and other minor characters play huge supporting roles in this tumultuous quest. I was sad that Amari and Tzain’s budding romance was halted while Zelie and Inan’s passionate one was fervently frustrated. But I remain a hopeful romantic while waiting for a sequel. 

Children of Blood and Bone mirrors a lot of real life issues we face in our societies like police brutality, racial or ethnic discrimination, gradual loss of culture, poverty and political tyranny. This mirror holds the themes and lessons one can learn from the novel. It’s robust plot was hijacked by plot twists, suspense and intrigue. CBB is written in simple English with Yoruba phrases and coined terms. Irony was one of literary techniques expertly utilised in this fantasy. Flashback and character dialogues were used to fill in the plot. Simile and imagery are two literary techniques artistically employed in this novel, (eg. the light’s voice is smooth like silk, soft like velvet. It wraps itself around my form, drawing me to it’s warmth). I found it ironic the King destroyed other families and his children while avenging his dead family. Another major irony was that Zelie hungered for change but was afraid of the possibilities magic could create. Out of the Eighty-five chapters my favourite chapter was Fifty-seven (plus the Epilogue of course). This chapter’s festivities and pet Lionaire Nailah inspired by book photo. Coincidentally it’s the author’s favourite chapter.

Landscape and animals in Orisha are nothing like anything I’ve read. Blue whisked bee-eaters, large panthonaires, snow leopanaires, stalking hyenaire. A map of Orisha is presented before the first chapter began. I enjoyed that the plot took us around that map and Orisha’s interesting landscape. It’s a highly recommended African Fantasy and YA Fiction book. For its plot twists resolutions and unexpected end of the last battle, four and a half fireworks! Did they succeed in bringing back magic? Did tyrant King Saran and his reign end? You’ll have to read to find out. To see more gorgeous book pictures or fan art click #childrenofbloodandbone.

 

More Info..

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian American writer and creative writing coach. Children of Blood and Bone is her first novel. Published in 2017 by Henry Holt and Company, a trademark of Macmillian Publishing Group LLC.

*this is a Flashback Friday Fiction feature review.*

 

 

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WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI

WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by SANDHYA MENON

“She wept for her hardheadedness, and for a world that couldn’t just let her be both, a woman in love and a woman with a career, without flares of guilt and self-doubt seeping in and wreaking havoc.”

“You’re going to see a lot of it. People getting ahead unfairly because of the category into which they were born: male or white or straight or rich.”

“This is our life. We get to decide the rules. We get to say what goes and what stays, what matters and what doesn’t. And the only thing I know is that I love you.”

Reading this stellar romantic novel has been Kismet and I know Rishi will agree with me.  I first came across it in June’s feed of some bookstagram accounts. Later when I will research, read then fall in love with YA Romance genre. I’d meet reviews, recommendation posts and sworn oaths about this amazing storyline. I decided to read it because of its main characters. I mean opposites attract right? Two young Indian American teens, one is a modern ‘woman in tech’ while the other is a traditional son who is ‘hobby comic artist’. Both who were matchmade had different views on love, stability and family traditions. Divine!

I appreciate the book being written in chapters alternating between Dimple and Rishi’s point of views. I fell in love with Dimple first then with Rishi faster. It’s also a coming of age novel wrapped in young romance tale. It discusses a lot of questions young ambitious persons with caring families ask. It was delightful that I got to watch Dimple and Rishi warm up to each other after their not so polite first meet. The friendship both characters build becomes a strong foundation for their mutual respect, attraction, and other things. How alive Dimple Shah is, is revitalizing. She would call to me in between lectures and my LL.B research time. Asking if I wasn’t curious about her and Rishi’s app development progress or treasured art in Rishi’s sketchpads or their kissing tab (I kept one). For teenagers, these two were mature, articulate, cultured, brilliant, bright and rightly matched. Their opposing views on family and responsibilities as an Indian child helped each other appreciate life a bit more. I’m now on a search for a bar like the one Rishi took Dimple to on their first non-date turned date night. I mean limited edition books, food and cocktails..sounds like I’m going to be searching Lagos.

Heck, halfway through the books I had mental fan art depictions of petite Dimple with her wild curls and taller Rishi armed with his sun rise smile and gada. Rishi Patel, unlike my suspicions, was kind, sweet, thoughtful and responsible aka a hundred yards of husband material. Their chemistry was erotica gold and fanfic worthy! I’m sure Karl felt it warm him up. Other minor characters also had diverse interests, races, financial backgrounds, personalities which added to the conflict and climax of this YA Romance. Surprisingly, both parents were much more supportive than the heroes felt. The best conflict is usually internal conflict of a character magnified by external conflicts. Sandhya Menon crafted this perfectly with the end of Insomnia Con and other things. Like the author said in her acknowledgements I really did see some sides of myself in Dimple and Rishi. Lord knows how many times I’ve painfully broken off budding love to focus on my career or reality.

It amazing how encompassing the themes and lessons are. Sexual responsibility, signs of growing love, crash course on being a jerk, date slay dressing tips. To sharing the importance of seeking your loved ones happiness, tips on sibling rivalry, peer pressure, planning meaningful dates, evading persistent mothers and kajal, stalking mentors to present an elevator pitch. Should I continue the list? The book was set in San Francisco in present day. The detailed knowledge of comic art and computer programming by the characters made the psychological set robust. With an easy to read vocabulary the writing style was simple but artistic. Vivid imagery, humorous irony, quirky dialogues give this story LIFE!!! There were Indian everyday words to those for food, endearments, feelings, etc. I learnt a few new words (a mean fit for a book to do these days.). The tone was warm, inclusive and descriptive.  I noticed a few contemporary romance clichés reenacted beautifully (eg. the unexpected but fate destined end).

When Dimple met Rishi coffee splashed while hopes soared.  Now the book is over I’ll miss watching Dimple push her glasses up her nose with Rishi or see Rishi smile and sketch characters for their app or being able to roll my eyes when the Aberzombies holler by. Although, I can’t pick out in clear words where the book title is from. It’s in how they first meet and Dimple’s character. Which is perfectly photographed on the book cover. In the beginning was the end, is really clear once you read this. Five bursts of riveting golden fireworks for resolved plot conflicts, answering difficult questions, teaching lessons about family and love.

 

Chopping Board

On the chopping board of life stands sweet and lays sour ‎things. They are chopped, cut, diced and served up delicious with tangy bits. I mused about life as I continued typing my research paper. I could pause my music player to listen to your voice notes. All your voice notes. You see, I love voices, listening to their sultry, cheery or silken smoky tones‎.

On the chopping board of life we all lay here. Either dissected or being prepared to be prodded by tools ie. persons or experiences that bring out ourselves. ‎I pause Ella Fitzgerald infamous sensual jazz ballad, At Last. Then my right fingers play your voice note. While my left palm reached for my cold glass of pink yoghurt. Sweet and sour. Sour strawberry creaminess coat my curling tongue like a French kiss. Sweet, sweetness is your voice. The moment passed like how I missed making your acquaintance about ten times before I did a year ago.

A DJ turn table or photo editing app is what ‎life uses these days. Chopping up beats and mixing pulses of daily life. Cropping and feeding filtered gradients that gradually alter reality’s real. So I listen to Sufjan Stevens’ hollow singing thrown in after your voice like sour yoghurt sipped after chewing sweet, soft chocolate cake bits.

CHOP! the knife slices into the small brown circumference. ‎Like my excitement shorten night’s rest. CROPPED, ‎I now have another taste of life for myself.

AUGUST ADVENTURES

You! Yes, you gemstone!

Welcome to August.

I expect you to have some adventures this month. I plan having adventures with diverse narratives on my DNF list. I’ll also publish drafted book reviews of my July reads. Ebooks from my TBR list that I’m interested in reading in August include The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding and When Dimple met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.  Expect new, quirky, vibrant book photos here and on my bookstagram account gemstone. Feel free to use them as wallpapers. When you repost or use my book pictures reference me.

Books on my Did Not Finish List include

  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein (A transgender business woman’s autobiography)
  • P.S I Still Love You by Jenny Han (sequel to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before)
  • Meet Cute Edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout (YA Romance Collection)
  • A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Edited by Ellen Oh and Ellie Chapman (YA Fiction Collection of Retellings of Asian myths and legends)
  • Garri for Breakfast by Seun Lari-Williams
  • Fine Boys by Eghosa Imasuen
  • It Wasn’t Exactly Love by Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop 2012
  • Desperate In Dubia  (story of four young women desperately searching for happiness in Dubia)

This list is filled with exquisite fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction set across the globe through time with various characters. I’d like to finish reading them while trying to acquire titles for African Horror. I don’t plan to complete reading everything on my DNF list this August though.

July was busy but blissful. I read really amazing books amidst many research papers and legal articles.  I read a lot of highly recommended YA Romance, queer romance and some trilogies. The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. Juliet Takes A Breath by Gabby Rivera. Everyday by David Levithan. Kevin Kwan’s trilogy (Crazy Rich Asians, China Rich Girlfriend, Rich People Problems), Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Almost a dozen stories read from Meet Cute Edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout and A Thousand Beginnings and Endings Edited by Ellen Oh and Ellie Chapman. Plus fifteen chapters from the Desperate In Dubia blog. July was filled with new lessons, my LL.B project editing, quirky book photos and globe trotting narratives.

PS: Happy new month gemstone!

YOU ARE NEAR YET YOU ARE FAR

YOU ARE NEAR YET YOU ARE FAR by NKIACHA ATEMNKENG

‘Travel between both Nigeria and Cameroon is supposed to be easy since citizens of both countries do not require entrance visas. However, the land route between the Cameroonian border town. Ebok and the Nigerian border town, Ikom is currently barricaded. Don’t ask why.’

‘You finally get jealous of the damn Sanja and feel like peeling it off your body and disappearing into the restroom. But if you peel it off just to pee, you will become naked and everybody at Ake will embark on a screaming spree. “Mad writer! Wahala dey for here o. Dr Dami, please bring that your mad bus. Carry y’im go. A man’s body is not a country!’

I finished reading this piece and the magazine it was published in, in June. Its incomplete review has sat in my draft since. In a bid to clear out my draft I’m published my thoughts about this second person travelogue. It makes me smile that the author’s first name sounds Igbo because of the irony the first paragraph presents. He began his non-fiction story stating many Nigerians drummed ‘you look and sound Nigerian’ into his Cameroonian ears. This was delightful reading this travelogue written by an African visiting Nigeria.

Halfway through this creative non-fiction piece I’d highlighted various honest paragraphs and comical sentences.  I just knew this is my favorite work from the Saraba Magazine: Issue 22-OPEN. This travelogue made me reminisce about my tour of Obudu, Ikom and Calabar in Cross River State. Where no one could answer my questions about why the Cameroonian border was closed. Or why people kept asking if I was Nigerian.

Apart from the humorous yet observant tone and ironic experiences of the narrator. Its the second person point of view used makes this read very compelling. Apart from the Literary Exchange Programme, he visits the Ake Arts and Literature Festival. Since I missed the ‘This F-Word’ themed fifth festival, his narration made me feel like I was there. I attended the sensational festival through his thoughts, reflections, dialogues and famous Sanja. His bravery in publishing a food review that didn’t crown Nigerian Jollof Rice ruler mirrors his candid appraisal of Nigeria-Cameroon relations. I felt near to this Douala boy, involved in his discussions about culture, literature, geography, politics. Yet I am far, far away in Lagos.