What I’ve Loved Lately… September

There are times when you find a book or a podcast and they stick with you for a long time. I shared a few of these things I’ve liked recently in this post.

READ

Rabbit: A Memoir by Patricia Williams

I discovered Rabbit while browsing through my local library and had never heard of Patricia Williams before seeing her book. It’s a memoir where Patricia Williams, a comedian writes about what it’s like being poor, female and black in America. She talks about her childhood with her mother who was an alcoholic and didn’t work. Patricia had two children by the time she was 15. She ended up being a drug dealer to support herself.

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Her story covers how she was able to break the cycle of poverty in her life. I liked that it showed how the support she received from others helped her move up in life. She doesn’t aim to speak for all young black women but shares her experience growing up in a poor household.

It’s emotional but it’s definitely worth your time. I found it hard to drop when it was time for me to go to bed. That’s how much I enjoyed the story.

LISTEN

The Starbury episode from NPR’s Planet Money podcast

It’s about a basketball player who decides to endorse sneakers that are much cheaper than the typical sneakers, athletes endorse. When Michael Jordan’s name is attached to a pair of sneakers, they sell for a much higher price. The episode explores whether customers respond the same way when they see sneakers that are much cheaper but claim to have the same quality as higher priced shoes.

I’m fascinated by how products vary in price when a brand’s name is attached to it so I was drawn to this episode.

An interview with the founders of Mented Cosmetics on Side Hustle Pro

Mented Cosmetics is a new company that currently offers nude lipsticks and nude nail colours. They aim to make it easier for women of colour to find their ideal nude lipstick or nail shades. They shared how they came up with the idea to start their company and their experience growing Mented Cosmetics.

I’ve been searching for a nude lipstick to match my skin tone so I was attracted to their brand. Most nude lip tutorials for women of colour tend to involve women applying multiple lip products and I don’t want to buy three lip products before I achieve the nude lip look I want. I’ve only worn nude lipstick once and that was for my traditional wedding. My makeup artist definitely used at least three lip products to achieve the look – a lip pencil, a lipstick and a lip gloss.

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But, I don’t have time to do that on a regular day. Mented Cosmetics fills a needed gap because you can wear the lipsticks on their own. Their lipsticks are also moisturising which is what I look for in a lipstick. I couldn’t find any UK retailers for their products so I won’t be buying any of their lipsticks yet.

Those are a few things I’ve enjoyed reading or listening to recently. Let me know if there are any books or podcasts you currently like.

 

 

 

Favourite Quotes About Books and Reading from The Bookshop Book

The Bookshop Book was written by Jen Campbell. I discovered Jen on Youtube where she creates videos about books, writing and representation in the media. When I realised she was also an author, I checked out her books.

It was a book on my Christmas wishlist in 2016 so I was glad I was able to read it last month.

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In The Bookshop Book, Jen interviews bookshop owners and authors. They talk about their love for books, reading and the bookshop owners talk about how they started running their bookshops.

These are the quotes from sections of the book that I liked.

“My children are so used to being able to buy things on computers, but there is nothing like going into a bookshop and picking up a book and being able to examine the style of it before jumping in and deciding to have it.” -Rachel Joyce, author

“Never lend books, for no-one ever returns them. The only books I have in my library are books that other people have lent me.” -Anatole France (Harris & Harris Bookshop have this written across one wall in their shop)

“It was probably my mother who made me fall in love with stories.”- Ali Smith, author.

Ali Smith’s mention of how her mother made her fall in love with stories resonated with me because my mum got me a lot of books when I was growing up. I feel that’s part of the reason why I enjoy stories.

Ali Smith’s mention of how her mother made her fall in love with stories resonated with me because my mum got me a lot of books when I was growing up. I feel that’s part of the reason why I enjoy stories.

“But are books going to die out? Many people have prophesied that, but I say that can’t happen. Books are important, so very important. They teach you things; they show you different views of the world.” – Brian Aldiss, author.

“I think bookshops and libraries are vital. It seems so sad that so many libraries have been closed down and so many bookshops have disappeared. If children can’t see books on shelves and learn to enjoy browsing before they select a book then they’ll never become keen readers.” – Jacqueline Wilson, bestselling children’s writer.

I read a lot of Jacqueline Wilson books as a child so I was happy to hear Jacqueline Wilson’s thoughts on why bookshops and libraries are important.

“A good bookshop shows you the books that you never knew you wanted.” – Mark Forsyth, author of the Sunday Times #1 Bestseller The Etymologicon

If you’ve been wondering why books or bookshops are important in our communities, I hope these quotes have shown why we’ll continue to need books, libraries and bookshops.

Book Review: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

I had heard a lot about Behold The Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue many times before deciding to read it. This was due to Mbue signing a million dollar deal with publishing giants, Random House and Behold the Dreamers being selected for Oprah Winfrey’s book club.

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So, I picked it up and I was glad I did. It made me think a lot about the issues the main characters faced. Behold the Dreamers is about a couple, the Jongas who move to America in the hope of a better life. The husband, Jende moves first and his wife and son join him later. This is a familiar story where one family member goes first to prepare things and earn enough money to send for the rest of the family.

Jende gets a job working as a chauffeur for the Edwards, a wealthy white family. Clark Edwards is a Wall Street banker at Lehman Brothers. Jende’s income improves dramatically when he begins to work for the Edwards. However, Jende starts work with the Edwards close to the time when the recession hits in 2008. I wondered if Jende was going to lose his job because the Edwards may no longer be able to pay him. It made me think of how our incomes can be tied to someone else’s wealth and if anything was to happen to them, what would happen.

The Jongas had immigration issues and were struggling to remain in America. His wife, Neni would share these problems with her pastor and her friends. There were times when I felt she was sharing her personal problems with a pastor that she barely knew. A pastor is not a doctor that keeps matters confidential. I kept wondering if her sharing these things wouldn’t lead to more problems. However, I later saw that it may be because she struggled to tell her husband, Jende some things. So sharing what was on her mind with others helped her get through those things.

Their immigrant experience was a key theme running through the book. The novel provided an alternative perspective on immigration at a time when the main political discourse seems to be about anti-immigration.

While Jende is facing financial pressure with paying to resolve his immigration case and to support his young family, his family in Cameroon still contact him to ask for money. They are unaware of how living in America doesn’t mean Jende is affluent and can afford to cater to all their needs.

Behold the Dreamers made me question if the West is the only place where people can live a successful life. Neni wanted their children to stay in America because it would offer them greater opportunities.

I was taught at school about push and pull factors that make people migrate to new places [Push factors meaning things that make you leave and pull factors meaning things that attract you to the new place]. Behold the Dreamers illustrated this through detailing the personal experience of the Jongas and what made them leave Cameroon.

*Check out my YouTube channel for my latest video on the books I read in July here.

Experience Epe Resort

I was in Lagos for 2 weeks in June. Prior to going, I had planned with my fiance (now husband) that we visit a resort in Lagos for a couple of days. We checked out different options online including La Campagne Tropicana, Whispering Palms in Badagry and settled on Epe Resort.

We decided not to go to Whispering Palms because there’s a lot of traffic on the route to Badagry where Whispering Palms is. I had also been to Whispering Palms twice when I was a teenager so I wanted to go somewhere new. La Campagne Tropicana was another attractive option but I just decided not to go there this time. Although, I hope to visit La Campagne Tropicana some other time.

Getting to Epe wasn’t difficult. It was a 2-hour drive from Gbagada (Lagos Mainland) to Epe. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the way. We got there in the afternoon and settled into our room. The rooms are in small bungalows around the resort. We stayed in the Superior Garden Room. It was large enough for two people. They had larger rooms which were more expensive but we felt that we didn’t need the space in a larger room.

Epe resort bed_miniEpe resort bedroom_mini

Our honeymoon package cost 225 000 naira for 3 nights. The package was all-inclusive so the price covered breakfast, lunch and dinner. We received complimentary wine and a fruit basket on arrival. Their food was good. We ate a lot of snails, prawns and fish. Epe is by water so it’s known as a great place to get seafood.

It was the rainy season when we visited so we had to be indoors on some days. We went swimming once as they have an outdoor swimming pool. They have a tennis court and space for football. I didn’t do any of the other things because I’m a couch potato.

In general, I would recommend staying at Epe Resort if you’re looking for somewhere relaxing to stay. I spoke about my experience at Epe and showed some clips of the resort in my YouTube video below.

6 Ways To Discover New Books

There are a million and one books and it can be difficult choosing what to read. I once came home when I was a teenager and my mum told me that she had just finished a novel called Trust Me by Lesley Pearse. She said it was a moving story and recommended that I read it. The story is about two children from England who were sent to an Australian orphanage in the 1950s. I read it and went on to read more Lesley Pearse novels.

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My mum’s read many Lesley Pearse novels too that I can’t get her any of her novels as a surprise present for her because she may have read it. I think she chooses books based on if she has enjoyed their previous work. 

So, people choose books based on if they’ve enjoyed the author’s previous books. How do I pick books to read? Well, based on my mum’s recommendations although I recommend more books to her now. These are a few ways that I discover new books. 

  1. Blog and YouTube reviews: I have subscribed to a few YouTube channels like Penguin Platform and Reads and Daydreams. Penguin Platform is a channel from Penguin Randomhouse so they only talk about books they’ve published. They run a giveaway every month but I’ve never won so I stopped entering their giveaway. Maybe, I’ll enter their next giveaway and see if I’ll be successful. I recently read Elif Shafak’s Three Daughters of Eve after watching one of their videos. Three Daughters of Eve_mini
  2. Friends: I speak to my friends about books they’ve enjoyed. My friend, Eniola told me how good I Do Not Come To You By Chance by Tricia Adaobi Nwaubani was. I found it at my local library so I borrowed it. The novel didn’t disappoint. If it had, I would have stopped taking Eniola’s recommendations.
  3. Events: I lived in London for a year and would go to author events. The book stands would be irresistible so I would end up going home with a book or two. Since moving to Nottingham last August, I’ve been to only two events. One, where I got Gary Younge’s book Another Day In The Death of America and another on Feminist Publishing. Both events were organised by Five Leaves Bookshop. If you live in Nottingham, you can check them out. I went home with a long reading list of feminist books after going to their event in April and I’ve been reading a few feminist nonfiction books since then. I Call Myself A FeministJPG_mini
  4. Podcasts: Authors are often interviewed on some podcasts that I listen such as Ctrl Alt Delete hosted by Emma Gannon and BBC’s Woman’s Hour. They discuss their books and if I find them interesting, I add them to my growing reading list. I read a book by Sophie Kinsella (Finding Audrey) for the first time this year after listening to Sophie Kinsella on Emma Gannon’s podcast. 
  5. Films: Reading Hidden Figures about female African-American scientists was a decision I made after watching the trailer of the film adaptation. I probably may not have read the book, had I not seen Taraji P Henson in the trailer. Taraji P Henson
  6. Bookshops/Libraries: Any day I have spare time and I’m out in the city centre, I usually stop at the library or any bookshops to see what books they have. I may just browse through the books at a bookshop and not buy anything. However, it requires a lot of self-discipline when I go to a bookshop. 

These are the main places I find books to read. When I see a lot of people talking about a book on social media, I usually check the books too.

I found a book yesterday while reading a podcast review on iTunes. The book is called The Upstarts:  How Uber, AirBnBand the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World by Brad Stone. I googled it and read an excerpt. Then, I found that the author, Brad Stone was on the Penguin podcast discussing the book. I ended up ordering the book from my library while listening to him on the podcast episode.

If you’re looking for a book to read over the summer or at any time, you can use these options or read reviews on my blog or check out my YouTube channel.

Films and Reads I’ve Enjoyed Lately

I usually post reviews of books on the blog. However, I know that people may not be able to access some of the books readily. I thought I’d share links from the internet so if you’re interested in reading and not be able to get a book, this post may be helpful in getting some content to enjoy.

Films

I watched Small Island on Netflix, which is a 2-part drama based on the prize-winning novel- Small Island by Andrea Levy. It’s about a Jamaican couple who move to England in the 1940s.

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The husband, Gilbert played by David Oyelowo arrives in England before his wife and sends for her. She is shocked to find that England wasn’t the country she thought it was. The wife, Hortense had always dreamt of teaching in an English school. She trained as a teacher for three years in Jamaica and her qualifications were not accepted when she applied to teach in England. They told her that she had to train again.

Small Island follows their struggles and explores what the experiences of early Caribbean immigrants in England.

The other show I’ve enjoyed watching is Kemi Adetiba’s episode with Tara Fela-Durotoye in the King Women series. If you’re unfamiliar with Tara, she’s a pioneer in the Nigerian make-up industry and is the CEO of the makeup brand, House of Tara.

I had seen Tara Fela-Durotoye’s interview on CNN African Voices so I thought I was quite familiar with her story. However, Tara went into a greater detail about her childhood and how she got married at 24 as a way of escaping her family in the King Woman episode. She grew up in a polygamous home without her mother and that affected the experience, she had at home. Even boarding school was a way of escaping from her family.

It made me think that sometimes we look at people and say they’re successful but we don’t know the challenges they’ve faced. I like stories on business people and the episode with Tara Fela-Durotoye was great.

Reads

I enjoyed reading Andrea Levy’s essay titled “How I learned to stop hating my heritage” on the Guardian. While watching Small Island, I wanted to know more about the author who wrote the novel and I googled her and the essay came up. The essay explores Andrea Levy’s experience as a child born to Jamaican parents in England. She discusses shade-ism and how parents felt they were better because they had a lighter skin tone than other people with a similar descent.

Andrea Levy’s father arrived in England on the Empire Windrush ship and I had heard about this ship’s arrival and how it marked the beginning of significant migration from the Caribbean to Britain. It was interesting to me because I had never heard of people who had direct relationships to passengers on the Empire Windrush.

Another post that I enjoyed was the 53 Painful, Horrible Experiences That Are Way Too Real For Black Women article on Buzzfeed. I could relate with everything in the article- from having to reject plans for a specific day because it’s the day I’ll be washing my hair to finding my headscarf’s slipped off my head in my sleep.

I remember when I’d spend hours watching hair tutorials on YouTube and I’d never be able to achieve those styles with my hair. That was frustration.

Do check out the links and let me know your thoughts.

Photo Credit: Goodreads

 

Book Review: Love Me Unconditionally by Ola Awonubi

Love Me Unconditionally is a romance novel set in Lagos and London. It’s about a lady in her thirties known as Deola, who has been a long-term relationship. Her boyfriend promises her marriage if she can get pregnant for him. However, she doesn’t get pregnant so that puts strains on their relationship. The relationship ends on a sad note and Deola has to move on from it.

Ola Awonubi novel

She decides she needs a change of scenery so she moves to Lagos. As Deola is in her thirties, she faces pressure from her mother to get married and her family tries to set up with potential suitors. The novel follows her time in Lagos and whether she’s able to find love again.

There’s a full review of the novel on my YouTube channel.

*Love Me Unconditionally was kindly sent to me by the author, Ola Awonubi. However, all views are mine. You can find the book on Okada Books and on Amazon.