What I Am Reading

My thoughts on books, comics, literary magazines, anthologies, genres that I am currently reading and adding to the Amethyst Saw Library.

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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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.

 

 

I’M LOVING YA ROMANCE

Young Adult Romance is a genre of Romance popularly called YA Romance by book lovers. It’s a genre I got curious about after reading book reviews, a blog tour, Something like Summer by Jay Bell, Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon, The Last Days at Forcados High School by A.H Mohammed and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han.

This July I decided to add reading books from two new genres to my 2k18 reading goals. YA romance and African Horror were my picks because I had enjoyed the works I’ve read so far.  I’m a lover of erotica, chicklit, afrofuturism, queer, historical and western romance, travelogues, legal thrillers and coming-of-age books. Some days back some friends and I were lamenting about the cliché plots of many Mill and Boons novels we read as girls.

Having extraordinary narratives exploring unconventional experiences of characters of color is what I love about YA Romance. Little wonder many of these bestselling YA Romance novels are being adapted into films. I adored The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon that I read it in just one day! Everyday by David Levithan and P.I Still Love You by Jenny Han are ebooks I’m currently thoroughly enjoying.  I’d like to read Everything Leads to You by Nina Lacour, When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon,  Meet Cute, a YA Romance anthology edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout and Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Most YA Romance novels and their reviews I have read narrate that we all have many types of loves, quests for life that don’t always end the way we expect. This abrupt yet robust style is one I found very fulfilling while reading some ebooks lately. The characters are so endearing! I love reflective works and many YA Romance make me travel, explore, muse, experience life and love. I really love chicklit and romance novels, poems and anthologies. why? These genres feed my hopeful romantic self with laughter, love, faith and lessons. I like it when a book teaches its reader to love and believe in themself This is a common theme with many Young Adult Romances I have read this July.

I haven’t began reading African Horror works yet. I only have Palmwine Drunkard by Amos Tutuola, a classic and books by the genre’s popular author Nuzo Onoh. After reading many African horror flash fiction on a blog a thousand midnights ago, I got fascinated with this genre. I do recall listening to Radio Lagos afternoon story time every week day. The presenter would read  Forest of a Thousand Daemons: A Hunter’s Saga by D.O Fagunwa in Yoruba. I came to cherish this Nigerian Literature Classic that improved my appreciation of Yoruba language and painted African mystical adventures in my mind forever. I will soon make a African Horror book list. If you have any book recommendations for both genres do comment them below.

 

Images source: Amethyst Saw

 

this week’s reads

With the pressure of writing my LL.B research paper I may have gone off my updated June reading list to read some lovely ebooks this week. I began reading Garri For Breakfast by Seun Lari-Williams. I’m in love with the unique tone each poem and its persona shared. They made me feel like I wanted to get to know them because they communicated to me in open, soothing stanzas. I absolutely love Full Moon. It made me remember my Tax Professor’s anticipation of the full moon and end of Ramadan. I found On Third Mainland Bridge and Welcome to Yaba Market funny recollections of experiences at major landmarks of Lagos.  I haven’t finished this poetry collection but it’s a feature in my handbag all week.

I also read Remember Me by Sophia Kinsella. I love the writing style, tone and London set novels of the Shopaholic Series Bestselling author. You should have seen how I read this ebook. My eyes scanned its reflective narrative, quirky amnesia suffering heroine, unbelievable plot reveals and unexpected climax. It was my break from research read.  There were many parallels with Lexi’s quest to regain her memories by knowing her past and my week. A unique, hilarious, but painfully honest chicklit, Remember Me, is highly recommended.

Rush reading two more ebooks off my reading list. I had reading vigils for Slow Hands by Leslie Kelly and To All The Boys I’ve Loved by Jenny Han(now a Netflix movie adaptation). Slow Hands taught me; not to be presumptuous, judge people but treat them nicely and all is not what it seems. Maddy’s successful career and  insecurities inspired me to work for my dreams, actively get I want and be more self compassionate. Being a Harlequin Blaze novel it was steamy with enough erotic encounters. An impressive depiction of a sextuationship. I mean toe-curling sex on a yatch in the middle of a cool, vast lake in Chicago after negotiation.

The following stuck with me.

“The point is people trade commodities all the time. Money for property. Stocks for liquid assets. Sex for marriage.” What more can be said?

“He’s a doll. I think it’s having sisters. In my opinion, every woman should end up with a man who had sisters. They drain all the assholeness out of him while he’s growing up and make him learn to treat a woman right.” Although, this is sometimes false.  I’m raising my younger brothers to treat women right.

“Maddy had worn a size two once. When she was two.” Witty!

As for To All The Boys I’ve Loved by Jenny Han which had me crying at how Lara Jean decided to end this! My Adobe Reader has many notes littered about this funny, deep, silly, stupid and downright unbelievable narrative. I really enjoyed this chicklit and YA Romance novel.

It’s delightful that halfway through 2k18 here at June’s end I can say I have met my reading goals to a large extent.

P.S: Can I just say I’m loving the YA Romance movie adaptations of 2k18. It’s always wondrous seeing my favorite romance characters and narratives in film.

PRIDE MONTH READS

June was #PrideMonthReads on Bookstagram. Apart from reading HOLAAfrica as I usually do. I followed @savidgereads vestful pride month reads. I began reading Adventures from the Bedrooms of African Women. I thoroughly enjoyed reading their erotica, memoirs, comic flash fiction and steamy series from the Lesbian Category.

Image result for pride month 2018

My three pride months reads of non-African experiences are

  • Everyday by David Levithan (adapted into a film being released this year),
  • The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein (this brilliant transgender memoir won the Victorian Prize for Literature)
  • The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Read (a recollection of Golden Hollywood and its glamorous bisexual star).

There were reoccurring in TBR picks and highly recommended LGBTQ literature from Pride Month Reads worldwide. Having mostly read more gay and lesbian romance I needed to read up other letters of the rainbow nation. The above books made me curious about exploring bisexual, transgender and queer narratives. I regularly read LGBTQ Literature, especially from HOLAAfrica To be honest I have only began reading The Trauma Cleaner and not the others.

Does it count that I watched Love, Simon and loved it? It’s the movie adaptation of Simon vs. The Homosapien Agenda a remarkable coming of age, gay, YA romance novel. A story of friendship, betrayal, love, connection, support and its adaptation had great music. Maybe it doesn’t count but it’s also a recommended pride month read. I’d recommend Under the Udala Trees, a brilliant purple covered African feminine queer novel I reviewed here. Also 14: An Anthology of Queer Art; Vol 1- We Are Flowers is another compilation of brilliant art, prose, poems, memoirs and photography by new and established African queer voices. I noticed there weren’t many poetry collections or more African LGBTQ works in the feed on bookstagram. What were your #pridemonthreads?