Tag Archives: Book review

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Review

The Thing Around Your Neck is a collection of short stories from the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She explores so many topics and themes in these short stories, with elegance and grace she holds the readers attention and just doesn’t let go.

She writes about the experiences of Nigerians living in contemporary America, about Nigerian women who find themselves in America for various reasons. Betrayed by the men they looked up to, who were supposed to give them bright futures. In ‘Imitation’, ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’, ‘The Shivering’ and ‘The Arrangers Of Marriage’ she writes about their disappointment; in men, in life, in America.  She also writes about the onset of colonisation in ‘The Headstrong Historian’. About Nigerian politics, political unrest and the biafran war in ‘Cell One’, ‘A Private Experience’, ‘Ghosts’ and ‘The American Embassy’. About homosexuality in ‘on Monday of last week’ and ‘The Shivering’.

I love how Chimamanda breaks down the ignorance of the white man in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’. Where a  collection of writers write about their personal experiences but find themselves dismissed by a white lecherous snobby benefactor who does not believe the things they are going through are truly African. Chimamanda has spoken about the danger of a single story before and I feel like she is reminding us in this short story. Despite claiming to be a keen Africanist having lived on the continent for so long, the character is blind to the fact that Africans can be lesbians or that professional women are expected to present their bodies and sexuality as part of the commodities for sale during the negotiation of contracts. This white man, stands there and argues what the true African experience is and what is a valid story for an African to write.

Adichie reminds us that the African experience is multifaceted, very obviously in ‘Jumping Monkey Hill’ and throughout the collection.

‘The headstrong historian’ is probably the best story in this book. It read like a shout out to Chinua Achebe and was an amazing way to end the collection. However, my favourite of the short stories was ‘The Thing Around Your Neck’ because it is so emotional. Because it is a collection of so many niggly feelings that you can’t quite explain. So many questions that you might not even want answered.

The thing around your neck is 5/5 for me, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie creates so many lump in the throat moments. The book was so easy to read and i wished it would not end. Her stories are so deliciously told that only after you have consumed them with gusto do you realise that you have learned so much from her amazing storytelling.

Happy Reading ❤

 

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

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Review:

I feel late to this party, Things Fall Apart has been a great novel long before I was even born. Nevertheless, here are a few of my thoughts on it.

I love the way Chinua writes, the way he explains traditions and phenomenons are practical and beautiful.

“Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten”

This book for me is a story of great sorrow. It is about the loss of culture in the name of civilisation. It is the story of how hundreds of African settlements  were destroyed in the name of western progress. It is a story of the arrogance of western society and I couldn’t be more glad that Chinua Achebe wrote it, lest we forget.

Things fall apart has been criticised by some claiming “nothing interesting happened”. Apart from the slow painful tearing down of a civilisation that just so happened to be different… I found a lot of interesting things did happen. Things happened to Okonkwo and members of his family (No spoilers). There were moments I was on the edge of my seat. But what is considered “interesting” differs from person to person, so let ye be the judge.

On the subject of misogyny, having myself been called a feminazi (for simply asserting that I think men and women should be equal), it’s safe to say I’m a feminist. I won’t sit here and say there was no misogyny present in this book. It portrays women as being owned by their fathers and then by husbands, serving little other purpose than to bear children. Having said that, the book tells us of the high priestess – A woman with the power to veto decisions made by the elders and clansmen. Did someone say bad bitch?

The ending – Unexpected. I hated Okonkwo at first, I expected more resilience and defiance from him. But he was a proud man, and we know what comes before a fall.

 

Happy Reading ❤

 

The Folly by Ivan Vladislavic

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Review:

& other stories brings us the work of Ivan Vladislavic, a celebrated South African writer. The Folly is an inventive tale of the unlikely friendship that blooms between two neighbours.

Mr and Mrs Malgas live simple lives, until a mysterious stranger appears on the unoccupied plot next door. Mr is keen to make acquaintance whereas Mrs remains sceptical and prefers to keep a distance from this suspicious creature.

Nieuwenhuizen arrives at his inherited acre with a headful of interesting ideas for a magnificent mansion. Father, as Nieuwenhuizen prefers to be called, makes tools and cutlery from any rubbish he can find – he is clearly resourceful. Soon he enlists the assistance of a trusting and willing Mr Malgas, who sets about clearing the land, prepping for the mansion he expects to see.

In this short fiction Ivan explores some interesting themes; ownership, trust, deceit and power. He highlights how easily a willing mind can be taken for a ride. In post-apartheid South Africa, should you love or fear your neighbour? Ivan’s characters are written with such depth, he explores their subtle mannerisms such that I feel I have walked with them. His command of language and attention to detail is exquisite, and has resulted in a mysteriously funny but serious novel.

The folly is an imaginative book for the sophisticated mind.

Written for Buzz Magazine Cardiff – Happy Reading ❤

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

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Review:

***4 stars***

Dark places by Gillian Flynn is a thrilling ride. We are taken on a journey, alternating between present day and 1985 when Ben Day allegedly massacred his family. Libby his youngest sister is the only one who survives to testify against Ben, sentencing him to life in prison. In the present day, dwindling funds force Libby down a path that leads her to question what really happened to the Days.

As a reader of mystery/thriller stories its natural to analyse every bit of the story and information given. Gillian has written 3 novels so far, and just as in Sharp Objects and Gone Girl I found myself coming up with my own theories. And in true Flynn fashion every single one was wrong. In Flynn novels once you are right up to the last few chapters, you feel proud that although its been a roller coaster, you do in fact know the identity of the culprit. But beware, Gillian has other plans.

 Flynn has an incredible talent for delivering a satisfyingly surprising end. She creates a world where everyone is suspicious, every single character is questionable and just might be capable of murder. Read these books, because my oh my they really are something.

Happy Reading ❤

Clowns Shoes By Rebecca F. John

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Review:

***4 stars***

 

Clown’s shoes is the captivating collection of short stories brought to us from the mind of Swansea writer Rebecca F. John.

She showcases seemingly ordinary people living out extraordinary situations with each story taking the form of a snapshot in the timeline of each characters life. We see snippets of lives that are full of disappointments, tragedy, love, loss and disguised blessings. In this collection we walk with characters that despite all of life’s hardships, are full of hope.

The author’s descriptions are powerful and the omission of a name for some characters made it easier for me as a reader to stand in their place, to feel in their place.

The stories are tantalisingly dark yet optimistic, an incredible combination to achieve and I was definitely left wanting more.

Happy Reading

Book Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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9460487Goodreads Description:

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography.

 

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts:

***4 stars***

That’s an odd picture isn’t it? Yes, I judged a book by its cover, and it paid off.

This book has many highlights… amazingly creepy pictures illustrating the powers of creepy but lovable children, adventures that involve some degree of time-travel (who doesn’t love that?), and thrilling horror! Wonderful!

The love story within the story is a bit odd, borderline disgusting, but to avoid spoilers I’ll leave it at that.

The characters, the plot, the different settings and the carefully curated pictures all come together to make a unique book that leaves a lasting impression. There are areas that need development, the baddies aren’t fully explored for example but hopefully the writer will delve into these in the sequel.

I’d recommend this book for people who enjoy books about time travel, though this is definitely not as good as The Time Traveler’s Wife, so don’t get too excited. And if the idea of keeping track of characters jumping back and forth through time isn’t for you, this is still a good read since its not at all complicated.

Happy Reading ❤

The Edible Exile By Carl Hiaasen

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Goodreads Description:

Cuervo is a pampered Nicaraguan moneyman, funding a guerrilla war from his cushy Miami penthouse. Sixto is his hulking, pistol-packing attendant, whose job satisfaction is on the wane. When an aging mobster enters their lives with a promise to help the rebel cause—with a planeload of chickens originally intended for voodoo sacrifice—a tense situation turns combustible. From the wickedly funny mind of Carl Hiaasen comes “The Edible Exile,” a raucous story of sleazeball nihilists, lovable thugs, and jungle-weary freedom fighters who collide in a battle of wills, ego, and the almighty dollar.

This cheeky tale, written twenty-five years ago, set aside, and recently rediscovered, is a time-capsule glimpse of Miami during the over-the-top 1980s, when everyone was on the make and gross excess was the order of the day. In an intriguing twist, Hiaasen had lost his original ending to the story. “So I decided to write a new ending,” he says. “As a friend said, ‘How often does a writer get the opportunity to collaborate with a younger version of himself?’”

“The Edible Exile” is a wild romp through Hiaasen Country, sure to appeal to the outlaw in all of us.

My Thoughts:

***2 stars***

Really short story so a really short review. The author found an old short story he wrote, and added a new ending as he had lost the original. The story is not that interesting in my opinion, perhaps some of it was lost on me. The irony at the end is pretty nice though.

Good to read if you’ve got half an hour to fill.

Happy Reading ❤