OfftheContinent

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

 

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JULIET TAKES A BREATH

JULIET TAKES A BREATH BY GABBY RIVERA

“Libraries are safe but also exciting. Libraries are where nerds like me go to refuel. They are safe-havens where the polluted noise of the outside world, with all the bullies and bro-dudes and anti-feminist rhetoric, is shut out. Libraries have zero tolerance for bullshit. Their walls protect us and keep us safe from all the bastards that have never read a book for fun.”
“Bible stories that painted women as untrustworthy or whore-ish always seemed off to me. Like, what did those messages have to do with God’s love anyway?”
“Get a little hysterical, Juliet. I mean that’s why vibrators were invented, right? Ask the questions that make you feel like your heart is blasting out of your chest.”
“There’s a lot of wisdom in the world that’s been discarded because it comes from traditions created by women, indigenous peoples, and other non-white dude customs. So, hell yeah, I believe in this stuff.”
“You control the energy in your body. Never forget that, Juliet..”
“Weird is the only way to live, she said..”
“… and in the middle of it all: all of the self-empowerment, all of the radical womanhood, all of the community-building. You will still feel wrecked. Allow yourself to be wrecked. Know that it is finite.”

I did wonder where Juliet got her name from. Its an unusual name for a Puerto-Rican girl but then she isn’t your usual girl at all. Juliet is named after her mama’s love for a Romeo and Juliet 1968 movie adaptation. This book these its Spanish phrases. Scents of the Puerto Rican foods wafting up from my Adobe Reader made me want to get online recipes. I’m tempted to learn the language and then listen to the book’s translated version all over again. I mean Juliet’s experience with Harlowe were filled with seemly ridiculous things..synced periods?! But the more I thought about it I realized my mum and I sometimes have synced periods and its always so exciting for us. Not so ridiculous after all. To be honest masturbation does help relieve cramps. This book made me remember a lot of things. Like my first period which was a magical moment although I was less naïve. I remember how I felt reading up Africa American LGBTQ experiences and terminologies, noting and googling new phrases thinking so there are terms for these! As Joey D says ‘How you talk about the things that matter is what matters’. Or how I initially tried to reconcile my very African existence with the world’s more militant than my family-taught feminism. This book makes me breathe in myself and joyous life about the little big phenomenons. With each chapter you will see yourself in many aspects of the book. Like Harlowe, I have a way I celebrate and treat myself once I get my period, Don’t you?

From its first chapter and introduction into its heroine’s mind I knew this was a novel I could fall in love with. What a baby dyke narrative! I love coming of age novels, chicklit and queer romances. If social politics can be addressed in the narrative I’m hooked. During my teenage years I loved Historical Romance from every corner of the earth. Now I can say Young Adult(YA) Romance is growing tendrils around my heart.

13. Didn’t Come to Kill Anyone. I Came Here to Die. Starting each chapter is exciting because the mysterious name of each chapter promised an intriguing tell. I read the italics title of chapter 13 above and began wondering what Juliet is up to. What new thing will she learn today? FYI Chapter 13’s end made me recall a similar break-up. I love how the style is free form prose verse. It is like reading a novel, a journal and listening to a memoir all at once. With a musing almost reflective tone, humor and steady pace the story progresses. ‘She zipped through the downtown area, a comet hurtling through the darkness of the galaxy.’ ‘Dinosaur-sized butterflies fluttered in my stomach.’ ‘I watched her until she was a speck of magic dust in the distance’. Expert imagery and beautifully written sentences! The novel is largely narrated from Juliet’s first person point of view and dialogues between characters. This brown baby dyke is coming into herself in slow burst of discoveries. Largely unknowing, fiercely loyal Juliet is endearing, caution and cool. She aptly describes herself as thick-bodied, bespectacled, cautious, overtly Puerto Rican and brown skinned, book-nerd, daydreamer.  Harlowe Brisbane is another major character in this lesbian, coming of age novel. She is The Pussy Lady, author extraordinaire,flawed mentor and endearing starlight,
I can’t help but wonder all the new experiences and knowledge will they become habits? If yes, will she take them back to the Bronx from Portland? I know what’s it’s like not to notice your own changes or extent of change until you are back home. Lil’ Melvin’s brown bag made my brown eyes mist as my pale pink lips parted into a wide smile.  A highly recommended read with 4 fireworks!

 

 

Where Rainbows End

WHERE RAINBOWS END by CECELIA AHERNS

“But knowing you, if you had a problem with me you wouldn’t be too shy to let me know all about it.”

“Ex-girlfriends are easily forgotten. Best friends stay with you forever.”

“She is the tiniest and most fragile little things I have ever seen, sometimes I’m afraid to hold her but then she opens her mouth and all hell breaks loose. It’s amazing how something so small can be so smelly and so nosy.”

“See the possibilities, smell the success in the air, taste the rewards.”

“I need to see my own life go for when Katie goes because I don’t see any Prince Charmings coming along to rescue me. Fairy tales are such evil little stories for young children.”

“People who says it’s a long story mean it’s a stupid short one that they’re too embarrassed and couldn’t be bothered to tell.”

“No, I have a shit job with shit pay, shit flat with shit rent. I have no time for shit sex with a shit man.”

One word- HILARIOUS!

Two words- Unbelievably honest.

Three words- I loved this!

I read this novel during three reading vigils second week in June. It was worth it!!!  This has been the most hilarious book I have read in forever. I never expected the turn Chapter Six took. My eyes are still wide open from the shocking plot direction. Pregnant! The novel introduces us to the funny childhood banter and friendship between Rosie and Alex. Over the pages and chat like style both characters grow through teenagehood, fights, adulthood, careers, family changes, love and marriages, growing children, loss and death and into old age. How fate kept interfering in the progression of their friendly affection into everlasting committed love was infuriating. The novel’s narrative is written in a series of letters, instant messaging and email correspondence which at first confused me. Geographically set in Dublin and other parts of Ireland and America it a refreshing change of scenery for my Off The Continent reads.

It is the most unusual romance novel I have read. Yet it’s a profoundly honest portrayal of long-lasting friendship and living life. Where Rainbows End is a box of love letters for every type of love one can have in life. I won’t lie Rosie did frustrate me oftentimes; I was like “cheer up, take a chance, stop sacrificing, let go babe!” The tone of the novel is comical, honest, open, witty, often times mysterious. Gosh! I loved the minor characters! Their contribution to the plot was always helpful, subtle and rib-cracking. Rosie’s mother willed her the Connenara house. I couldn’t help but be grateful Rosie could FINALLY run something close to a hotel. Infact after reading her B&B Brochure made me want to visit. Tears filled my eyes at Chapter Fifty’s messages and end. I wanted a staycation just to rest and bask in the end of this magnificent read. This novel showed we all choose and contribute to how we live our lives, dream filled or lacking. Another lesson I learnt was that you should address express our emotions and sort out issues with loved ones urgently or amicably. Time flies and when it does all these things don’t matter.

If I didn’t like anything about this stunning novel is that life events kept inhibiting Rosie from making choices that got her closer to her dream life. It felt unfair, but it made me love the novel and Rosie’s persona because it made the winding timeline memorable.

Where Rainbows End gets 4 fireworks plus a twinkle and comes highly recommended.

BOOKS, FILMS, ADAPTATIONS.

Films Or Books? Is usually a question people ask me. Dah! You just pulled me out of an open novel to ask that question. But sometimes the stars aline in the dark galaxy and there are movie adaptations of books I love. From the Star Wars franchise to Half of A Yellow Sun, I love watching movie adaptations of  narratives I adore. Its magical watching the cast and crew efforts of squeezing and trimming a novel into an hour plus of interpreted visual delight. Plus seeing the author’s approved representation of  imagined characters and setting, ah!

This May I watched a few films based on books which I found endearing. These join the list of my favourite adaptations (in no particular order) The Notebook, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Great Gatsby, Longest Ride, Something like Summer, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Call Me By Your Name, Everything Everything, Me Before You, Fifty Shades Trilogy, etc.

So..May Adaptations include

Message In A Bottle by Nicolas Sparks, A touching story of love and loss, grief and growth I read while in senior secondary school. I was so moved by this narrative that I wrote a short note to my crush then, I put it in an empty plastic bottle and gave his friend, the courier. His other friends hijacked the bottle, ran around school to my utter embarrassment before they surrendered my message. Although, suspecting that might happen I’d kept it short, poetic but not ‘lame and loving’. In the end my crush didn’t see anything sweet or romantic about this gesture. That was years ago. After watching the movie adaptation for the first time last week I sent my secondary school best friend a direct message about this funny but embarrassing memory. He said, ‘that boy never had any romantic bone in his body’. Like every Nicholas Sparks book, there were the timeless, classic, aesthetic setting of the film.

The Best of Me by Nicolas Sparks, one word..WOW. for the moving undying first love story, adulthood reunion, loss, sacrifice. A beautiful adaptation of a breathtaking narrative. I cried.

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reckles: Another unique teenage romance story. Filled with plot twists, friendship, hurt, love and being honest with one’s self. All perfectively captured in this bright, up beat Netflix movie. Plus Elle was acted by a short, curvy, beautiful young woman. Amazing.

BITTER TRUTH

BITTER TRUTH BY WILLIAM LASHNER

“She walks in beauty, like the night of cloudless lines and starry skies and all that’s best of dark and bright meet in her aspect and her eyes.”

“Obscene wealth is the greatest American obsession and I am nothing if not a patriot. It’s just that now I think how I make it and how I spend it is every bit as meaningful as the money itself.”

“I can detect the sweet scent of mint, no, not peppermint, government.”

I read Bitter Truth by William Lashner  all week during January’s third week. With a desire to return the borrowed novel, I pulled it out and decided to read it. I don’t regret it! This novel, Victor its hero, and it plot twist were spectacular.

Where do I start? Is it with the murdered Reddmans, vengeful Pooles, damning letters and diaries, unearthed family secrets, the Philadelphia mob or unique view to spirituality and religion or the ambitious lawyer and hero Mr Carl in the midst of it all.

A complex, unconventional, compelling legal thriller that kept shocking me with its suspense, plot and characters.

‘A taste for truth at any cost is a passion which spares nothing.’-Albert Camus. This is the first quote that I meet when I flipped the book’s beginning pages.  At the end of the book I fully understand this quote. The powerful crippling future of fortune built on lies, deception and crimes.

Written with many literary devices like imagery, personification, simile, metaphors, poems,  jaw dropping flash back, the plot felt complete without being burdening. The novel begins with Mr Carl on a plane to get his third of a one hundred million dollars judgement sum from a mysterious mastermind killer. Through the rest of the novel the plot jumps from the hero’s current search in Belize for the judgement debtor to  apt flashbacks, of the chilling sometimes comical and outrageous experiences during his appointment as an  attorney, to investigate the Reddman family murder and history while weathering a mob war.  It’d been a while I have a novel with characters so alive! One of my best reads in January.