Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

 Adunni is a fourteen-year-old girl who lives in a small village in Nigeria. Her mother is dead, and her father has just arranged a marriage for her with a much older man who already has two wives. The man wants a son and Adunni's father wants the money her bride-price will bring. What does Adunni want?
"My heart is starting to break because I am only fourteen going fifteen and I am not marrying any foolish stupid old man because I am wanting to go back to school and learn teacher work and become a adult woman....I don't want to marry any mens or any boys or any other person forever....That day, I tell myself that even if I am not getting anything in this life, I will go to school. I will finish my primary and secondary and university schooling and become a teacher because I don't just want to be having any kind voice....I want a louding voice."

But Adunni's journey isn't easy. First she's sold as a wife to Morufu, then as a domestic servant to a wealthy household in Lagos where she's not treated very well. Despite the struggle of being a young girl in a country that doesn't seem to value her, she meets a few kind people along the way who offer help and encouragement. Kofi, the chef at Big Madam's, tells her about a scholarship that would enable her to continue her schooling; and Tia, a wealthy London-educated neighbor, agrees to help her with her English and her scholarship essay. Even with their help, life for Adunni is still a struggle. But she never gives up on her dream. I loved that about her.
"A day will come when my voice will sound so loud all over Nigeria and the world of it, when I will be able to make a way for other girls to have their own louding voices.... A day will come...."
Girls in Nigeria don't seem to have a voice when it comes to making decisions about their own lives, which makes this coming-of-age story such a compelling one. I really liked Adunni's 'louding' voice and I think Abi Dare is a remarkable writer. I'm so glad she highlights the plight of Nigerian girls like Adunni in this book, how so many are devalued unless they're married, and how men often seem to think they can use them for their own pleasure and then toss them aside. I find it heartbreaking that there are still cultures in the world today where marrying off young girls is more important than educating them. I hope books like this one help change that someday.

Happy Reading!

Melody and I read this one together--which always makes a book more fun! Check out her questions to me below, then go check out her review of this captivating book. 

Melody's questions to me:
Q. What do you think of Khadija's death and Bamidele running off from his deeds and responsibilities? In your view, do you think there's closure to this case? 
A. Khadija's death was so senseless and unnecessary it broke my heart. The fact that she felt her future (and her family's dependence on her husband for food) was at risk if she didn't give him a son made her do something stupid, and she paid for it with her life. I'm not surprised her lover Bamidele ran off and left her to die. And the fact that he'll never have to pay for his part in her death is just another example of how unvalued women are in certain parts of the world. 

Q. Why do you think Ms. Tia wants to help Adunni and what have they learned from each other through their own issues? 
A. I think Tia is the kind of person who wants to make a difference in the world and who genuinely tries to be a good person, and that's why she talked to Adunni in the first place and agreed to help her learn better English. Also, having grown up in England, I think Tia saw Adunni not just as a maid, but as a real person when the other Nigerian women just dismissed her. But I think Tia's the one who ended up learning more about life, and what's truly important, from the time she spent with Adunni than anything Adunni learned from her. But I did really like their friendship. 

Other good reads set in Africa:

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl.

This week's theme:  Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud.

Here are my Top 10:

1. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

2. The Adventures of Sally by P.G. Wodehouse

3. Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella

4. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

5. Married With Zombies by Jesse Petersen

6. Abridged Classics by John Atkinson

7. Soulless by Gail Carriger

8. The Vampire's Fake Fiancee by Kristen Painter

9. Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum

10. Helen and Troy's Epic Road Quest by A. Lee Martinez

Happy Reading!

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Housing Lark by Sam Selvon

The beginning: "But is no use dreaming. Is no use lying down there on your backside and watching the wallpaper, as if you expect the wall to crack open and money come pouring out, a nice woman, a house to live in, food, cigarettes, rum. ...The irony of it was that the wallpaper really had a design with lamps on it, Aladdin lamps all over the room. ....Battersby thought maybe he wasn't rubbing the right one."

The setting: London in the 1960s. 

The players:  A group of West Indian immigrants. There's Battersby and his sister, Jean, from Trinidad, and their friends, Nobby, Alfy, Fitz, Sylvester and Gallows. And then there's Harry Banjo, a calypso singer from Jamaica and Battersby's new roommate, who is the first to suggest they pool their money together to buy their very own house.

The dream:  "Yes, yes, is time to get serious," Bat say. "Now listen. I ain't want to make no big speeches. Everybody know what hell it is to get a place to live, and the idea is to start saving up some money, and we put it together and buy a house."

The problem:  "Ain't we going to buy a house?"
                           "That is only a lark," Jean say, "you think them fellars really serious? I know Battersby, he is my own brother, and I could tell you that up to now he ain't give me a ha'penny he save up. If I was you I think twice about that scheme."

The author:  Of East Indian descent, Sam Selvon was born in Trinidad in 1923. He came to public attention during the 1950s with a number of other Caribbean writers. The Housing Lark was published in 1965.

My reaction:  I didn't know what to expect when I started reading this novel, but I ended up thoroughly enjoying it. Selvon does an excellent job of portraying life in London for these West Indian immigrants, and the unfair prejudices they face. But he also doesn't flinch from showing each character's flaws and weaknesses; and he does it all with a lyrical lilt to his prose that calls to mind the Caribbean islands. It's not a long novel, only 125 pages, and every page is a delight. Selvon is a new-to-me author, and one I would definitely read again. This book also counts as my Classic by a BIPOC author for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Haiku Reviews...


Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott

Protecting Yellowstone
is his job, and her passion.
Teamwork leads to love.

Historical fiction .... 309 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(I also really enjoyed Scott's A Distance Too Grand.)

Hyenas by Michael Sellars

World gone mad. Humans
turned savage. Language lost. Can
Jay and friends survive?

Science Fiction/Dystopian .... 272 pages .... 3/5 stars.
(Not quite zombie apocalypse, but close!)

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero

You can change your life.
Just believe in you. Then act.
Most of all: Love Yourself.

Self-Help/Nonfiction .... 244 pages ....4.5/5 stars.
(Lots of language, but some excellent advice.)

The Flip Side by James Bailey

Go. Stay. Right. Left.
For one year Josh decides it all
with the flip of a coin.

Contemporary romance .... 371 pages .... 4/5 stars.
(Humorous and fun...and set in England!)

Happy Reading!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

26 Marathons by Meb Keflezighi

I've been a fan of Meb Keflezighi ever since I watched him win a silver medal in the marathon at the Athens Olympics in 2004 for Team USA. In his long career as a distance runner, he ran 26 marathons altogether, winning both the New York City Marathon in 2009 and the Boston Marathon in 2014. With every marathon he ran he learned something....a key takeaway from every challenge, triumph, struggle and defeat he faced; he shares those life lessons in this book. Here are a few of my favorites:
  • Consistency is key!
  • What matters is what you do, not what you say you're going to do.
  • You'll never know if your time has come if you don't try.
  • Celebrate every personal best.
  • Never give up on your dreams.
  • Giving your best over the whole course is what life is about.
  • In whatever we do in life, it's important to finish strong. You can always rest when you're done.
This is such a great book! Even if you've never run a day in your life and you have no desire to ever run a marathon, this book is still an accessible, interesting, honest and heartfelt read. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 12, 2021

February's Bookish Art...

Henry John Hudson -- The Letter

"There was nothing like that feeling of holding a book in your hands and traveling to another place, another time...another life."
--Vivien Chien, Death by Dumpling

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Bloodwalker by L.X. Cain

 A little girl taken from a park in northern Italy.
A boy taken from a playground in Slovenia.
And now a girl from Budapest.
No one had put it together except Rurik. No one realized that each child had vanished on the day of the final performance of the Zorka Cyrka.

Rurik is chief of security at the Zorka circus. With his lightning-scarred face and body he's often mistaken for a monster himself, but he knows the real monster is hiding among the circus performers. And he's determined to stop them before another child is taken. But he doesn't know who he can trust. And other things at the circus keep going wrong.

Then there's Sylvie Dinescu. She's one of the bloodwalking women of the Skomori Clan. She knows there's death and danger at the circus, but she has no idea how she can help find the killer, not when she's just been married off to a stranger. Besides, she knows no one is going to want the help of a Bloodwalker, especially not one who's been cursed.

There's a lot to like about this one! The writing. The circus setting. The characters. The suspense. The strange traditions of the Bloodwalkers. The mystery itself and the horror at the end. I thought it was an entertaining read. And Rurik and Sylvie? I liked them both. All in all, I'd give this one 4 stars.

Happy Reading!

P.S. And no, there aren't any vampires in this one.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

A Children's Classic

I don't remember when I bought Queen Zixi of Ix; or, the Story of the Magic Cloak by L. Frank Baum, but I do remember why. It was because of how much I love Baum's Oz books. Growing up, I read them over and over: Ozma of Oz, Tik-tok of Oz, Glinda of Oz. All fourteen of them. So when I saw a copy of this book, I couldn't resist buying it. Why it's taken me so long to get around to reading it is another story.

Queen Zixi of Ix was published in 1905. Baum called it one of his best efforts and "nearer to the old-fashioned fairy tale than anything I have yet accomplished." It begins with a bored fairy queen who weaves a magic cloak capable of granting one wish to its wearer, but only if it's given to that person, NOT stolen. It's also about two orphans, Bud and Fluff, who have just lost their father. In a strange twist of fate, Bud ends up as the new King of Noland, and his sister, now the Princess Fluff, ends of with the magic cloak. When Queen Zixi of the neighboring Kingdom of Ix hears about the cloak, she determines to steal it, even though she's a powerful witch in her own right. Along the way, the cloak grants many wishes to many different people, most of them foolish and silly, and Bud and Fluff have quite the adventure until the fairy queen comes to take the cloak away. It's classic Baum: delightful and charming, with several unique magical creatures, fun plays on words, and an old-fashioned moral at the end. I still love the Oz books best, but I enjoyed reading this one. And it counts as my Children's Classic for Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 4, 2021


 One month into 2021 and I'm not sure it's any better than 2020. But I'm surviving. And hey, at least there's toilet paper! Because they prioritized school personnel here in Utah, I got my first dose of the Moderna vaccine last month, and should get my second dose next week. No side effects other than a sore arm. I just hope it works, especially with all these scary variants popping up. I'd love to see a light at the end of this long pandemic tunnel!

On the upside, I watched a fun movie the other day: Anna and the Apocalypse. It's a musical .... with zombies! Who can resist that? The songs in it are amazing. And Anna is a great character. It is rated R for some language and some zombie violence...though it's way less graphic and intense than a single episode of The Walking Dead. I thought it was a very entertaining film.

Something that made me laugh:

I recently finished reading an excellent biography: Revolver--Sam Colt and the Six-Shooter that Changed America by Jim Rasenberger. I thought it was fascinating, and I learned a lot. It's very well-researched and it's clear that Rasenberger really knows his history. There were times however when I felt the writing got a bit too detailed, which made the narrative drag. Overall, though, I liked this one. And who knew one man could influence so much of history with one little gun?

Favorite Quotes of the Week:

"If you are depressed, you are living in the past. 
If you are anxious, you are living in the future. 
If you are at peace, you are living in the present."
--Lao Tzu.

"Life is but a dream. Don't turn it into a nightmare."
--Jen Sincero

Have a good weekend...and Happy Reading!

Monday, February 1, 2021

Back to the Classics Challenge 2021...

 I wasn't sure I wanted to sign up for any reading challenges this year, but then I noticed that six books from my TBR list lined up perfectly with six of the categories from Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge and it felt like a little bookish serendipity. Besides, I really like this challenge. I've done it twice before. And even though I never managed to complete all twelve categories either time, maybe this will be the year I actually do it. 

Here are the 12 categories for this year's challenge...and the six books from my TBR list I'm hoping to read for them. (The remaining six categories I'll have to figure out later.)

A 19th Century Classic:  Can You Forgive Her by Anthony Trollope (I've owned this book for years, but have been too intimidated by it's length to ever try it...until now. Maybe.)
A 20th Century Classic: 
A Classic by a Woman Author:  The Misses Mallett by E. H. Young (This book I only recently acquired.)
A Classic in Translation:
A Classic by a BIPOC Author:
A Classic by a New-to-you Author:
New-to-you Classic by a Favorite Author:
A Classic about an Animal, or with an Animal in the Title: Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
A Children's Classic: Queen Zixi of Ix by L. Frank Baum (I already own this one, too.)
A Humorous or Satirical Classic:
A Travel or Adventure Classic: In Morocco by Edith Wharton (Another book I've owned for years but have never read.)
A Classic Play: Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (Because Sam at Book Chase made it sound so good.)

Wish me luck...
and Happy Reading!