Category Archives: Book review

Book Review: Love’s Persuasion by Ola Awonubi

Love’s Persuasion is a romance novel where two characters, Ada and Tony meet and the story explores their relationship and other situations they face as young people at work who have to deal with expectations from their families.

Tony was sent abroad to study in England at the age of 10. When he was 28,  his parents asked that he return back to Lagos to head his father’s finance company. Tony had other career interests in writing but his father wasn’t keen about that.

“I have spent my life building up my businesses for you and all you want is to do is to stay in London doing this writing thing…Do you think I sent you to London to become the next Chinua Achebe? You have a degree in business and finance and your ACCA for a reason, you know.”

Ada, on the other hand was from a low-income family and was expected to marry a rich husband to take care of her family. The story looks at whether Ada would succumb to that to raise her family’s living standards or if she would choose to work hard to build a well-paying career for herself. Ada had extensive financial responsibilities towards her family and she was also paying her university fees and working alongside her studies. An excerpt on her experience was,

‘Books call Ada’. ‘Money call Ada’. ‘The roof is falling down call Ada’. How many pieces do you want me to divide myself into?’

Tony and Ada are from different social backgrounds so we see if their love survives the class differences between them.

I think Ola, the author explored a different returnee experience when she wrote about Tony moving back to Lagos. I watched An African City, which is a web series about five female women who had lived in the West and moved back to Ghana. It was nice to read about a man’s returnee experience which maybe a bit different from a woman’s.

Exploring how Tony schooled abroad from a young age and turned out fine was interesting as I’ve listened to conversations on how going to boarding school overseas at a very young age can affect a child negatively. I once read a novel, Mother’s Choice by Agbo Areo (it was required reading in secondary school) and was about a boy who left Nigeria to school in England and how he joined bad friendship groups in England and didn’t turn out great. Love’s Persuasion offers a different perspective on still being able to excel in life, even though the child’s faraway from home.

I met Ola, the author at the Africa Writes literary festival and that was where I bought a signed copy of her book.

Ola Awonubi and I

There’s a video review to the book as well.

Do you read romance novels? And what’s your favourite genre to read?

 

Day Out at the Africa Writes Literary Festival

I found out that there was going to be the Africa Writes festival at the British Library on social media and given that I love African literature, I was interested. The event ran for 3 days but I only attended on the second day- Saturday.

At the British Library

I chose to attend sessions on digital publishing and diversity in children’s publishing and a book launch. Yewande Omotoso launched her book- The Woman Next Door so I was able to find out more about her writing and the book. 

I enjoyed all the sessions and the panel discussions were very interesting. I’ll give you a mini recap on the session as the issues they discussed are topical. The sessions were:

The Digital Debate: A New Era of Reading and Publishing
This was facilitated by the ladies who founded Bahati Books, a digital publishing house. What drew me to attend was the constant conflict in my mind on whether to buy e-books or hard copies. The latter always wins the war. I’ve only read 2 books on Kindle and the first time I bought a Kindle book, I thought e-books were cheap. I bought it for £1 but I guess there must have been a promotion at the time. 
The publishers on the panel mentioned how they can play with the prices of their e-books and that’s why it may seem cheap at certain periods. They can afford to change prices on e-books but hard copies have the prices already printed on them. The panel spoke on how it can be costly producing e-books so we shouldn’t expect it to be free.
There was a discussion on free content and how “just because it’s digital, doesn’t mean it’s free.” However, I feel there’s a place for free digital content from authors. I like when I’m able to read blog posts or short stories from authors online for free before committing to buying a book. There are short stories on Brittle Paper which I read from time to time to discover new authors.

An interesting issue was also whether certain genres like erotica do better in e-book sales. It was said that 50 Shades of Grey did well in e-book sales as people perhaps felt more comfortable reading it digitally than holding a copy version and reading it in public. 

“There’s no such thing as a Black Princess: Diversity in Children’s Publishing”
This was about the need for representation of characters from different backgrounds. I knew growing up, I read many books by Enid Blyton where I didn’t see any characters like me and I didn’t think much of it at the time. However, it’s important that children see themselves in books because every background is valid.

One thing I took away from this were that stories are for everyone. Just because, a book has black characters doesn’t mean it’s only meant to be read by black children.

Then, there was a question on whether books should have raceless characters. For example, there was a casting of a black actress as Hermione in the West End play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and this caused a lot of debate. JK Rowling defended this casting as the ethnicity of Hermione was “never specified” in the book. From the session, I figured the panel was more drawn to ethnicity of characters being specified.

Finally, what’s a book event without an opportunity to buy books? There was a book marketplace and I bought a romance novel by Ola Awonubi, called Love’s Persuasion and chatted with Ola.

Ola Awonubi and I

Overall, I enjoyed Africa Writes and I plan to next year and attend more of the sessions. It was a lovely way to spend my Saturday.

Let me know in the comments section if you’re a lover of e-books or you’re a hard copy girl like me.

Book Event Recap: New Nigerian Writing with Cassava Republic Publishing

This year, I’ve been reading a lot of African fiction so I was excited when Cassava Republic said they were hosting an event where I could meet some African writers. To say a bit about Cassava Republic, they are a publishing company whose mission is “to change the way we think about African writing”. They launched in London in April but I think they’ve been based in Nigeria for about seven years. They had some events around the time of their launch in the UK. One of the events was An Evening of New Nigerian Writing and this was organised with Dulwich Books, a bookshop in South East London. I learnt about the event on Cassava Republic’s Facebook page. 
I picked up three of Cassava Republic’s new releases there and I met the authors of the books- Leye Adenle, Elnathan John and Sarah Ladipo Manyika. There was a deal where I could get three books for £25. I felt buying the books at the event saved me from having to order it online on a later date and wait for it to get delivered. I’m glad that Cassava Republic is establishing their presence in the UK as it’s a platform to showcase the works of African writers. A lady I met at the event told me that this was my first of many book events. 
One of the books I got
In the video, I mention the two other books I got and share a recap on the event. 
One of the issues raised at the event was whether people were reading less? Do you think we, as individuals are reading less?   

Book Review: Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Adichie

I thought I had read Purple Hibiscus while I was in secondary school. This was because it was required reading for the students below me at my secondary school. I thought I borrowed it from one of them. However, when I picked up the book to read this year, the story seemed very unfamiliar to me. That was when I realised that I had never read it before. 
Everywhere I hear about African writers, Adichie’s name is mainly mentioned so I was interested in reading her work. I share my thoughts of Purple Hibiscus in the video below. 
Have you read any of Chimamanda’s books? If you have, let me know which one you liked the best.  What books have you enjoyed lately and would like that I check out?

Book Review: From Pasta to Pigfoot by Frances Mensah Williams

From Pasta to Pigfoot is a fictional story. The novel revolves around the main character, Faye Bonsu. Faye is a young lady living in London but was born in Ghana to Ghanaian parents. She left the country when she was a little girl and moved to England. In the book, she decides to visit Ghana having not visited since she was a child. When she gets to Ghana, she makes friends, develops relationships with new people, learns about her culture and Ghana in general.

The storyline was beautiful and I enjoyed reading about Faye and her experiences in Ghana. Through the book, I felt that Ghana was similar to Nigeria where you can see major contrasts in the way people live. One minute, you see open gutters and poor people, the next minute, you see fancy hotels and mansions. 

Moreover, the way they celebrate weddings has similarities to a Nigerian wedding. Faye attended a traditional wedding in Ghana and  the ceremony had representatives of the bride and groom’s families and this is similar to a Yoruba traditional wedding in Nigeria where the alaga iduros represents the bride and groom’s families. At the Ghanaian wedding, there was a spokesperson for both families called the okyeame. See this book educated me on Ghanaian culture, I felt like packing my bags and going on holiday to Ghana like Faye did in the story.

In Britain, where there is a large African community, it was great to read a novel that focused on a Ghanaian family living in a multicultural society in the UK. I enjoyed it so much that I bought a physical copy as a gift to my mum. I had a conversation with my mum about the book and you can read that below.

A few weeks later, she told me she enjoyed to proceeded to share some of the scenes she loved. 

I thought I’d share some excerpts and illustrate why Michael was classified as annoying.  To introduce you to Michael, he was Faye’s boyfriend. Faye’s brother, William was the one speaking below.

This is what comes from hanging around with Michael Duncan… Ever since he got into this “I’m black and I’m proud” thing, he’s become even more of a prat than he was when we were in school.’


The part I’m sure my mum would have loved was the description about Faye’s dad.

“Dr Bonsu was a firm believer in the Ghanaian tradition whereby children respected and obeyed their parents’ wishes so long as they remained under their roof.”

Faye’s dad was a father who believed his children had attend to mass whenever he was around, regardless of his children’s opinion on the subject. It was interesting to read about Faye living at home with her family as an adult and having to conform with family standards. We all know how some of us move from home just to be independent so I could relate with Faye. 

To purchase From Pasta to Pigfoot, you can find it on Amazon and at waterstones.com. The sequel to From Pasta to Pigfoot is out now as well.

Photo credit: Amazon Kindle

Book Review: So The Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist

This novel was mainly set in Sierra Leone and the United States. It focuses on a young lady from Sierra Leone, Finaba and her experience in her home country and her time in the United States. The story started around her initiation ceremony and the possibility of her circumcision. What I found great about the book was I was not sure if she got circumcised till after I read a considerable amount of the book so the author left me in suspense while reading it.

Image credit: Amazon Kindle

Female circumcision was one of the issues the novel raised. The novel made me question if calling female circumcision, female genital mutilation is appropriate. Sexual violence and rape were addressed by the author as these were woven into the lives of the characters. The novel had a mini love story as Finaba was in romantic relationships and you know we all love a bit of romance. 
Reading about Finaba’s move back to Sierra Leone was interesting because sometimes we may think the only attractive option is to move to the West. Her move back was around the time when there was a conflict in Sierra Leone. This shaped the story in that the characters were affected by the war, financially, physically and mentally. At a time, when there is conflict in the different parts of the world, the story caused me to reflect on the experiences of people in war-torn areas and their loved ones who support them from foreign lands.

Finaba explained why she wanted to return to Sierra Leone and her reason triggered my thoughts on why we choose to live where we do. The novel explored the possibility of Africans in the diaspora contributing to the development of their home countries through coming back to help. This idea is related to a call made by Ms. Walla, Cameroon’s first female presidential candidate in This is Africa Online for the region’s educated and young diaspora to return to join the public sector as many have skills that can transform the region. 

*I purchased the novel on the Amazon Kindle store and it cost £1 at the time I bought it.