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?


Social Media: Making and Maintaining Friendships

July was a month of catching up with friends so I thought I would write about social media and friendships. I joined Facebook in 2008 and since then I’ve gone on to join other platforms. In 2011, I created a Twitter account because everyone kept talking about tweeting and having an avatar (Twitter’s way of saying a profile picture) but I deleted the Twitter app on my phone because I wasn’t using it. I didn’t know why I needed a Twitter account since I had Facebook but now I know better. Twitter has become one of my favourite social media platforms as I get to keep up with the world through my account (P.S. follow me on Twitter @tunrayo_akande if you haven’t already). If you ever wonder where I discover the book events I attend, it’s on Twitter.

Through Twitter, I met the lovely Kachi from I tweeted at a company Chuku’s because I wanted to try out their food and needed to know their prices. Chuku’s make Nigerian food in Tapas style. Kachi saw that I was interested in going to Chuku’s and we ended up going together. Yay to making new friends on social media. 

Kachi and I
Food from Chuku’s
Beyond meeting new people on social media, I get to keep in touch with my old friends. I was on Snapchat talking to my friend, Funmiloye who I hadn’t seen in 3 years. I saw a snap about her on holiday and decided to ask her about it. We got talking and she told me she was having a barbecue in London and asked if I was able to come. Of course, a girl never turns down a barbecue and that was how we met up. What I love about Snapchat is that if I see a snap, I can easily communicate with my friend based on their snaps rather than having to think of what to say.
Funmiloye and I

I got to see a couple of my other friends in July as well. I saw my friend from A Levels, Yatta in Birmingham. We hadn’t seen since our first year at uni and I happened to be in Birmingham for a graduation so I thought let me just message her and see if she’s free. She was so we spent the evening together.

With Yatta in Birmingham

Two of my friends from university got married so I caught up with my uni friends too.

My parents once said my generation could keep in touch better with our friends because we have social media. My mum added that regardless of whether you have social media, you still need to make the effort to use it to connect with your friends through messaging from time to time.

So let me end with some advice to you and myself that requires just a little bit of effort. Call your friends today. It’s not when you need something that you remember to call them. When you can, meet up with them. Social media is great but nothing beats seeing friends in real life. 

Story Time: My Experience at Boarding School in Nigeria

In 2004,  I resumed secondary school at Louisville in Nigeria. I was excited and told my older brother that I won’t be joining him at his school as I was going to Louisville. Little did I know what awaited me at secondary school. 
I had read two of Enid Blyton’s boarding school series, St. Clare’s and Malory Towers when I was in primary school but I knew Louisville wasn’t going to be like that. There was no way Louisville which is situated in the South-west region of Nigeria would be similar to the schools in England that Enid Blyton wrote about.

This picture was taken in 2010 near the end of my final year at school. I’m the third person from the left. 

Did boarding school meet my expectations? I had no expectations but boarding school taught me many things and instilled values in me that I live by today. At the time, I didn’t really appreciate the value of going to Louisville though I knew I was privileged to go to a good private school. There were moments when I cried because I couldn’t understand why I was under the hot sun cutting grass as punishment for not laying my bed properly. I left Louisville  knowing that outdoor labour like cutting grass isn’t for me. There were punishment times, happy times with my schoolmates and academic sessions to get the qualifications that I needed.

Watch the video below to hear me talk about my experience.

It was hard to capture six years of being at boarding school in a video of less than six minutes but I was able to share my memories of it and the lessons from Louisville. 
Let me know your fondest memories from school and whether you went to boarding or day school. 

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.

Baking With Daisy from Daisy Brydon Creations

On a morning in May, I had an appointment at an office but it was closed when I got there. Daisy’s bakery was close by and it was raining so I asked Daisy if I could stay in her bakery. I ended up spending my day in Daisy’s bakery.   
Given that I was with her for awhile, I was interested in how Daisy started her business and I asked her questions about it.  Daisy was an actress but was suffering from insomnia and depression. To cope with this, she started baking in the evenings when she got back from acting. She had a mentor who advised that he couldn’t help with acting. He asked if there was anything else she did and Daisy said “I kinda bake.” That was the beginning of the business and she started the business in her grandmother’s kitchen. There were challenges she faced at the start such as figuring out profit margins and turnover. Her bakery has grown since then and she’s moved the bakery out of her grandmother’s kitchen. Her bakery business has been running for four years.

Watching Daisy work made me realise how baking and cake designs require creativity. Daisy specialises in creating sculpture cakes and is able to show her creativity through her cake designs and recipes. She taught me how to make vanilla biscuits as she makes biscuits for her customers. I thought people only bought biscuits from supermarkets and the like. Apparently, clients sometimes want customised biscuits.

Staying in Daisy’s bakery reminded me of my mum’s bakery in Lagos. My mum is also a baker and has been running her business for about 20 years. When I was younger, I helped out a bit in the bakery but never learnt how to bake anything from start to finish. As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed more interest in baking and running a small business like my mother’s.

Going back to Daisy’s, her cupcakes are amazing. I tried her carrot cupcakes with Italian Meringue icing. The icing is quite light so it didn’t feel heavy.

You can check out Daisy’s work on Instagram at @daisybcreations and she’s recently launched a new product- Whoopie Pies and you can check out her Whoopie Pie Instagram account @whoopsiedaisybakery 

My mum’s business is on Instagram at @cakesetcetera_bakery and she’s available for orders in Lagos. 

VLOG: Nigerian Wedding at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire

I attended a wedding with my family in Buckinghamshire on the May 2 Bank holiday weekend. The wedding was at Heatherden Hall in Pinewood Studios, the production home of many films including Star Wars and James Bond movies.  I’d never been to Buckinghamshire so I didn’t pay attention to the location of the venue when I saw the invitation card. Well, I googled how I needed to get there and that was it. It was when I got there that it dawned upon me that I was at a major British TV and film studio.

We stayed at Pinewood Hotel and that was where I got ready. I couldn’t travel from London in my heels and outfit. 
I recorded a vlog on my time there. There was a lot of dancing and party food, but didn’t record the food for you. 
The wedding was also featured on Bellanaija

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?