Book Review: The Extinction Of Menai by Chuma Nwokolo

“How can I live in this world, Mata?”

‘Practiselearn. The lesson of the crab’.

“What is the lesson, Mata?” 

‘Carry your truthsweetness inside; but as for the world, show them only your crabshell’. Chuma Nwokolo in “The Extinction Of Menai”

Chuma Nwokolo is my best Nigerian/African writer yet and I was delighted to receive a free autographed copy of this book from the author himself. Thank you Sir!

I always say if a book is more than 350 pages, It really has to be good for me to read it up until the end. This book had 448 pages and It was a good one. This is the type of book you read that drives you into deep introspection and reasoning about certain ideologies. I found it complicated but yet simple in so many ways. I was totally consumed by this story and many times confused but I will definitely read this book again in the near future.

The story has several themes with the main one focusing on the Menai tribe ( a small fictional tribe in Niger Delta, Nigeria) whose people, culture and language are going into extinction due to an unethical trial vaccine administered to about 95% of the tribe who live in a small village called Kreektown. The story is told through the eyes of quite a number of characters who take us to many cities in Nigeria and abroad like Lagos, Abidjan, London and Abuja.

In his usual style, the author in most parts laced the story with some dark humor, mystery and suspense which made for good reading especially when it had to do with Humphrey Chow and Badu. Many times I wasn’t sure who was what or what was real or imagined. It was that confusing to be honest. An interesting angle was how the story also highlighted the political play that takes place in our country and the atrocities the police and politicians commit all in a bid to hold on to power. This brought There was also a hint of romance which added some spice to it all and it was a delight to watch it unfold.

This book resonates with me mostly because I am from the Niger Delta, Nigeria and also from a small tribe that historically migrated from a far away land to our current location. The name of our tribe is also the name of our language and town and this language is distinct and quite different from our neighbors.This really resembles the Menai tribe in the story. The story has made me to think about my roots, language and culture and how all these are really going extinct if nothing is done about it in the next few years.

The down side of this book is that there were too many narrators in the story which made it somewhat confusing most often than not. There was so much back and forth that sometimes I had to go back to check who a particular person was because I couldn’t remember who was what since there were too many people to keep track of.

Ultimately, it was a good read but not as great as his previous books I have read. I recommend it to anyone who loves mystery, a lot of suspense and some dark humor.

Rating: 3.8 Stars

Published: First Published in 2017 by Gwandustan ltd and March 7th 2018 by Ohio University Press

Pages: 448

Genre: Fiction

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The Author: Chuma Nwokolo was born in Jos, in 1963, graduated from the University of Nigeria Nsukka in 1983 and was called to the bar in 1984. He was managing partner of the C&G Chambers in Lagos and writer-in-residence at The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. He also cofounded the literary magazine African Writing with Afam Akeh. His first novels, The Extortionist (1983) and Dangerous Inheritance (1988), were published by Macmillan in the Pacesetter Novels and his stories have found foster homes in the London Review of Books, La Internazionale, AGNI, MTLS, Arzenal, and Sentinel, among places.
Chuma is really a short story writer, although he is not above stitching tales together into more garrulous novels. Thus, African Tales at Jailpoint (1999), One More Tale for the Road (2003), and – truth be told – Diaries of a Dead African (2003). His more honest anthologies consist of The Ghost of Sani Abacha (2012), How to Spell Naija in 100 Short Stories Volumes 1 (2013), and 2 (2016).
He is also guilty of poetry, some of which have been collected in Memories of Stone (2006) and The Final Testament of a Minor God (2014), but without question, the most difficult, sustained, and in a sense satisfying thing he has ever done is his imminent novel, The Extinction of Menai.

December 2019: Top 10 New Releases To Look Out For

Welcome December!

It’s the last month of the year and 2019 still promises us some lovely titles before the year finally closes.

It’s the holiday season, time to snuggle up with a good book and a cup of tea or coffee so check out my Top 10 picks to look out for this December. There is something for everyone. Romance, mystery, historical fiction, fantasy……….


1. Children Of Virtue and Vengeance (Legacy of Orisha #2) by Tomi Adeyemi

Published: December 3rd, 2019 by Henry Holt & Co.

Pages: 448

Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult

Blurb: After battling the impossible, Zélie and Amari have finally succeeded in bringing magic back to the land of Orïsha. But the ritual was more powerful than they could’ve imagined, reigniting the powers of not only the maji, but of nobles with magic ancestry, too.
Now, Zélie struggles to unite the maji in an Orïsha where the enemy is just as powerful as they are. But when the monarchy and military unite to keep control of Orïsha, Zélie must fight to secure Amari’s right to the throne and protect the new maji from the monarchy’s wrath.
With civil war looming on the horizon, Zélie finds herself at a breaking point: she must discover a way to bring the kingdom together or watch as Orïsha tears itself apart.


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2.  The Voyage Of saints by Marvin Abe

Expected Publication Date: December 12th, 2019 by Masobe Books

Pages: 334

Genre: Fiction (Historical)

Blurb: Michael Ajose was convinced by an unforgettable dream that his life’s course could only be charted by a mysterious woman’s love. So, he decided to find her, and marry her. He was 12 years old. This is the story of how he found her – Lami. How he loved her – like an addiction. And how she loved him – like an anchor for his soul. Painted in cinematic recollections and a part-epistolary style, this is the story of their love – starting from the pre-military era of Nigeria’s history, spanning governments, and continents. And as they struggle to steer their ship through life’s dangerous waters and against all forces determined to keep them apart, this is the story of their fate.


Regretting you

3. Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Published: December 10th, 2019 by Montlake

Pages: 366

Genre: Fiction (Romance)

Blurb: Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.
Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.
With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.
While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.
From #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us comes a poignant novel about family, first love, grief, and betrayal that will touch the hearts of both mothers and daughters.


if you tell

4. If You tell by Greg Olsen

Published: December 1st, 2019 by Thomas and Mercer

Pages: 426

Genre: Non Fiction (True Crime)

Blurb: After more than a decade, when sisters Nikki, Sami, and Tori Knotek hear the word mom, it claws like an eagle’s talons, triggering memories that have been their secret since childhood. Until now.
For years, behind the closed doors of their farmhouse in Raymond, Washington, their sadistic mother, Shelly, subjected her girls to unimaginable abuse, degradation, torture, and psychic terrors. Through it all, Nikki, Sami, and Tori developed a defiant bond that made them far less vulnerable than Shelly imagined. Even as others were drawn into their mother’s dark and perverse web, the sisters found the strength and courage to escape an escalating nightmare that culminated in multiple murders.
Harrowing and heartrending, If You Tell is a survivor’s story of absolute evil—and the freedom and justice that Nikki, Sami, and Tori risked their lives to fight for. Sisters forever, victims no more, they found a light in the darkness that made them the resilient women they are today—loving, loved, and moving on.


The Wives

5. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Expected Publication Date: December 30th, 2019 by Graydon House

Pages: 336

Genre: Mystery

Blurb: You’ve never met the other wives. None of you know each other, and because of this unconventional arrangement, you can see your husband only one day a week. But you love him so much you don’t care. Or at least that’s what you’ve told yourself.
But one day, while you’re doing laundry, you find a scrap of paper in his pocket—an appointment reminder for a woman named Hannah, and you just know it’s another of the wives.
You thought you were fine with your arrangement, but you can’t help yourself: you track her down, and, under false pretenses, you strike up a friendship. Hannah has no idea who you really are. Then, Hannah starts showing up to your coffee dates with telltale bruises, and you realize she’s being abused by her husband. Who, of course, is also your husband. But you’ve never known him to be violent, ever.
Who exactly is your husband, and how far would you go to find the truth? Would you risk your own life? And who is his mysterious third wife?


such a fun age

6. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid

Expected Publication Date: December 31st, 2019 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Pages: 320

Genre: Fiction

Blurb: Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.
But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.
With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.


The moonshiner

7. The Moonshiners Daughter by Donna Everhart

Expected Publication Date: December 31st, 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 368

Genre: Historical Fiction

Blurb: Generations of Sassers have made moonshine in the Brushy Mountains of Wilkes County, North Carolina. Their history is recorded in a leather-bound journal that belongs to Jessie Sasser’s daddy, but Jessie wants no part of it. As far as she’s concerned, moonshine caused her mother’s death a dozen years ago.
Her father refuses to speak about her mama, or about the day she died. But Jessie has a gnawing hunger for the truth–one that compels her to seek comfort in food. Yet all her self-destructive behavior seems to do is feed what her school’s gruff but compassionate nurse describes as the “monster” inside Jessie.
Resenting her father’s insistence that moonshining runs in her veins, Jessie makes a plan to destroy the stills, using their neighbors as scapegoats. Instead, her scheme escalates an old rivalry and reveals long-held grudges. As she endeavors to right wrongs old and new, Jessie’s loyalties will bring her to unexpected revelations about her family, her strengths–and a legacy that may provide her with the answers she has been longing for.


love lettering

8. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

Expected Publication Date: December 31st, 2019 by Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 320

Genre: Fiction (Romance)

Blurb: In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts one woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing beautiful custom journals for New York City’s elite. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Like the time she sat across from Reid Sutherland and his gorgeous fiancée, and knew their upcoming marriage was doomed to fail. Weaving a secret word into their wedding program was a little unprofessional, but she was sure no one else would spot it. She hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid . . .
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out—before he leaves New York for good—how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline, a fractured friendship, and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other about their lives, work, and regrets, both try to ignore the fact that their unlikely connection is growing deeper. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .


A madness of sunshine

9. A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

Published: December 3rd, 2019 by Berkeley

Pages: 352

Genre: Fiction (Mystery)

Blurb: Anahera Rawiri left New Zealand at twenty-one, fleeing small-town poverty and the ghosts of her childhood with no plans to look back. But eight years later, she returns, seeking familiarity as respite from the shattered remains of her new life. And despite the changes brought on by a bump in tourism–the shiny new welcome sign at the town line and a decidedly less shiny new police presence–Golden Cove appears much as it ever was: a small settlement on the savage West Coast of the South Island, populated by all the remembered faces and set against a backdrop of lush greenery, jagged cliffs, and crashing waves.
Detective Will Gallagher knows all about ghosts; his own chased him out of a promising career in Christchurch, landing him as the sole cop in a quaint town where his most pressing concerns are petty theft and the occasional drunk. When Golden Cove resident Miri Hinewai goes out for a run and fails to return, Will finds himself heading up a missing person’s search that rapidly escalates into an official investigation after this case is connected with similar ones from the past. As an outsider, Will begins to rely on Anahera’s knowledge of the area and its residents to help him delve into Golden Cove’s secrets, and to determine whether it shelters something far more dangerous than just an unforgiving landscape.


The story of a goat

10. The Story Of a Goat by Perumal Murugan

Published: December 10th, 2019 by Grove Press, black Cat

Pages: 192

Genre: Fiction

Blurb: As he did in the award-winning One Part Woman, in his newest novel, The Story of a Goat, Perumal Murugan explores a side of India that is rarely considered in the West: the rural lives of the country’s farming community. He paints a bucolic yet sometimes menacing portrait, showing movingly how danger and deception can threaten the lives of the weakest through the story of a helpless young animal lost in a world it naively misunderstands.s the novel opens, a farmer in Tamil Nadu is watching the sun set over his village one quiet evening when a mysterious stranger, a giant man who seems more than human, appears on the horizon. He offers the farmer a black goat kid who is the runt of the litter, surely too frail to survive. The farmer and his wife take care of the young she-goat, whom they name Poonachi, and soon the little goat is bounding with joy and growing at a rate they think miraculous for such a small animal. Intoxicating passages from the goat’s perspective offer a bawdy and earthy view of what it means to be an animal and a refreshing portrayal of the natural world. But Poonachi’s life is not destined to be a rural idyll–dangers can lurk around every corner, and may sometimes come from surprising places, including a government that is supposed to protect the weak and needy. Is this little goat too humble a creature to survive such a hostile world?
With allegorical resonance for contemporary society and examining hierarchies of caste and color, The Story of the Goat is a provocative but heartwarming fable from a world-class storyteller who is finally achieving recognition outside his home country.


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Book Review: Daughters Who walk this Path by Yejide Kilanko

“Listen my child, we do not abandon the business of living life just because of what people will say about us” Yejide Kilanko in Daughter Who walk This Path

I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while and for some weird reason, I never got around to reading it. There has been a lot of rave about it especially since it was shortlisted for the NLNG prize so I finally decided to dive into it.

This is a coming of age story about young Morayo who lives happily with her parents and sister until Tayo (Bros T) comes to live with them. At first, things seem normal and then Morayo is raped by Bros T and threatened not to tell anyone unless he would do the same to her younger sister. The abuse continues until Morayo is bold enough to tell her parents who send Tayo back to his mother but after that Morayo’s relationship with her parents take a different turn which leaves her feeling alone in the world and misunderstood. The story follows Morayo’s journey through life, trying to deal with the trauma the sexual abuse has caused her and even though she finds a friend and comforter in her aunt Morenike who is also a victim of sexual abuse, she still has to fight her demons on her own.

Sexual abuse is a very serious issue that has affected one too many young children (boys and girls) of which most are unknown to the parents. The effects of this abuse is boundless in the lives of those that have gone through this terrible ordeal and I am happy that we are beginning to talk about it in this generation. I am also glad that there is now a relatively large awareness around the topic and it is imperative that we educate our young children early enough about sexual abuse and make effort as parents, wards and care givers to protect them as much as we can.

Back to the book! I didn’t enjoy this book as I had expected. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good read, I just didn’t enjoy it as anticipated. Despite the powerful theme and issues, I struggled with the story telling as I found it drift off and on course in certain parts of the book. I found the build up to the main event in the story too long a wait and I also felt that there were gaps in the story that didn’t explain certain events or reasons why the protagonists made the decisions she took later in her life. There were times I had to skim read through some pages because it didn’t really add any value to the plot.

Morenike was my favorite character as she depicts someone who was able to confront her situation and turn her life around. I acknowledge that the fact she had a supporting mother and grand mother who stood by her throughout her ordeal helped a great deal in her healing process which many people lack. However, she still made the conscious decision to go back to school after having a child for a rapist and eventually become the successful teacher  she always wanted to be. Another character I liked was Eniayo, Morayo’s younger sister. I loved her bubbly nature and free spirit. In the case of the protagonist, I felt the author didn’t do justice to her character and I wish it was better developed to understand her better and empathize with some of her choices.

Overall, It was a good story with an important theme but it didn’t hold me.

Rating: 3 Stars

Published: Published in 2014 by Kachifo Farafina

Pages: 316

Genre: Fiction

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The Author: Yejide Kilanko is a writer of novels, short stories, and a poet. Kilanko’s debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path (2012), a Canadian national bestseller, was longlisted for the inaugural Etisalat Prize and the 2016 Nigeria Literature Prize.
Her work includes a novella, Chasing Butterflies (2015) and a children’s picture book, There Is An Elephant In My Wardrobe (2018). Her short fiction is included in the anthology, New Orleans Review 2017: The African Literary Hustle.
Kilanko lives in Ontario, Canada, where she also practices as a therapist in children’s mental health.

Author Interview: Edify Yakusak Author Of “The Curse Of Happiness”

I recently read “The Curse Of Happiness” by the author and I immediately fell in love with her story telling skills and writing style (check out my review on this book by clicking on “Book Reviews” on the Homepage Menu). I became curious as usual about the author and her inspiration for her book so I contacted her to request for an online interview. I was lucky enough to get through to her and was thrilled when she accepted my request to this interview.

EDIFY 2Edify Yakusak is a Lawyer. She is Bajju from Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing stories and screenplays. Her first book. After They Left, was adjudged as one on the top 10 fiction books in 2016 by the Channels Book Club.


Edify Yakusak has given us some insight into her life as a writer by answering 10 questions.

1. What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work.

Edify: I grew up reading books from my Dad’s library: The Left Behind series, Frank Peretti and a whole lot of Christian fiction. I also had elder relatives who had a lot of romance and thriller novels. An author who I believe has influenced my writing was Jackie Collins. I thought her books were bold, fierce and unapologetic, it made me want write stories that were unafraid and unashamed.

2. What is the biggest surprise you experienced after becoming a writer?

Edify: I don’t know if this is a surprise or even a big one at that but there’s still a bias against African writers by Nigerians. Often, I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t like Nigerian books.” Then I’d ask, “Which one have you read recently?” And they won’t be able to answer, or they’d say “I only like the old ones written by the likes of Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe or those published under African Writer Series.”

3. What tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)

Edify: I always write an outline for everything I write. I hardly ever write as it comes. Before I write every story I brood over it. I get a lot of story ideas, but the ones I put to paper are the ones that refuse to leave my head. So I write an outline, then write the entire story on paper, before I type it on the computer.

4.  Which do you prefer? Pen or type writer or computer? Music or silence?

Edify: Pen then computer. What I listen too depends on what I am writing. Music sometimes acts like some sort of score that hangs over my thoughts and writing. When I’m writing a really sad scene, I listen to some sad core and it helps my process.

5. What books have fortified you as a writer?

Edify: The Joys of Motherhood by  Buchi Emecheta, Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila. Books I read authored by Jackie Collins

6. What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?

Edify: I try not to categorize my books or my writing. I mean others can do it, but I don’t. I feel like if I do that, I’d put myself in a box. I want to write different stories that cut across all genres. I want to be guided by the story and stay true to it and not be restricted by writing within a genre.

7.  Have you written any other books that are not published?

Edify: Yes. Still don’t know what I am going to do with them. Lol

8. What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?

Edify: Sometime in 2017, an older family friend, who worked with an NGO in Maiduguri who had read my first book, “After They Left” told me she met a woman that who dug her husband’s grave with her bare hands and buried him after he had been killed by Boko Haram, similar to what a character in my book had done. I think about that a lot.

9. Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If so, why? If not, what would make you successful?

Edify: Yes. A while back, just before the release of my first book, I was anxious about how well I’ve done and if the book will be well received. Most times writers measure their success or otherwise based on two things: the number of copies sold and whether people have nice things to say about the book or not.

I didn’t want that to be my yardstick for measuring literary success. Selling a ton of books is great, but it’s much more than having a good book, there are other factors to consider like; location, marketing, distributing structures, financial situations and a whole lot. Especially in Nigeria where the literary infrastructure is still developing.  I also realized writing is a solitary vocation, and since it is bringing something out of nothing, or creating or transforming something that wasn’t there, there is that propensity to see every critique or take on your writing as an attack on the writer. I thought this was unhealthy. I needed to be able hear/read things people say about my work and not consider them as an attack on my person or creativity.

So I sat down and wrote what  a writer would look like to me and for me it is; the amount of time and discipline I have dedicated to my writing, it is whether I have done my very possible best for the story with what was available to me at that time, it is whether I stay true to the stories and characters, it is whether I have stayed true to myself. I have done all these so yes again, I am a successful writer.

10. Tell us something about yourself not many people know about?

Edify: Emmmm. I’m a good dancer?

Thank you Edify Yakusak for granting this interview.

I wish you the best in your journey as a writer and story teller.

Book Review: The Voyage Of Saints by Marvin Abe

*I received a copy of “The Voyage of Saints” from Masobe Books in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed reading this book, I was particularly excited when I got to know that it was based on a true story as I am a great lover of historical fiction. It was always a welcome distraction to look forward to after a busy day. “The Voyage Of Saints” is well paced, engaging and many times It felt like I was watching a combination of a thriller and a romantic movie. This page turner turned out to be a heart wrenching emotional roller coaster ride and I loved every moment of it.

Michael has big dreams to sail on a big ship and travel the world. Despite all the road blocks thrown his way, he still finds himself on the path to be a sailor with his eyes on the ultimate prize to be Captain of a ship some day. It is on this journey fate brings beautiful Lami his way. Their love is one that is hard to believe still exists but yet believable as they go through life’s difficulties and challenges especially from external forces. Lami becomes Michael’s pillar and strength, she literally maps out how he would navigate towards achieving his goals and she ensures that he gets to the peak even at her own detriment. Michael on the other hand, is enchanted by her love for him and would do everything to please her so he marries her despite his family’s objections and it seems like this is happily ever after but as they say, even good things come to an end and life happens to this inseparable duo.

I found the characters in this book well developed and authentic especially the two main characters. My favorite character was Lami. I found her lovely, strong and selfless. Her love for Michael one of a kind and her optimism infectious. I had to pause many times and wonder on how large a heart she had and the length she was willing to go for the love of her life. She was really a saint. I also admired Michael’s zeal and tenacity although his stubbornness sometimes infuriated me.

I enjoyed the way the story built up from the beginning with its little twists and the plot was well thought out. I particularly loved the part of the book that just had letters Lami and Michael wrote each other at the times they were apart. It was very romantic and expressive of their love and commitment to their marriage and dreams for each other. Their love many times seemed extremely intense like when two people are infatuated with each other at the beginning of a relationship but this one stood the test of time as it was tried so many times and in so many ways for years on end and it’s foundation was not moved. Being a lover of music, especially old school types, I connected with Lami and Micheal as they played music by Gregory Abbott and the likes. It added more life to the story and fueled my imagination of how things were between them.

The parts of the story I didn’t like were the times they visited native doctors and seers. Even if this did not affect the story or plot, I was frustrated at the characters as they went from one herbalist to another and I got tired of the cycle of events. I wished they had better counsel to seek God’s face in prayer. Unfortunately it was their reality at the time and it seemed like they had no choice.

One key lesson I have learnt from this story is that we have no control over what the future will throw at us. We can have the best plans, dreams and aspirations, we can work hard to achieve them, but we can never know what will happen at the end. Therefore, we can only pray for God’s will in our lives and trust him totally, believing that He only gives us what is best for us even when we may not understand our circumstances.

Overall, it was an interesting read and I wish I got a happy ending but it is what it is. I recommend it to everyone but I advise you to hold your tissue close.

Rating: 4 Stars

Expected Publication Date: December 14th, 2019 by Masobe Books

Pages: 334

Genre: Fiction (Historical)

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The Author: Marvin Abe is an experienced Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Maritime and Oil and Gas industries, which has earned him wide industry acclaim and recognition in the areas he has served. He has an MBA in shipping and logistics from Middlesex University, London, UK and a post graduate diploma in Maritime Operations and Management from City University, London, UK. The Voyage Of Saints is his first book.

Author Interview: In Conversation With Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

BBTBTAdaobi Tricia Nwaubani , an award winning author, Journalist and essayist launched her debut Young adult novel “Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree” on Sunday, 17th November, 2019 at Café One by Sterling. This event was made possible by  Café One by Sterling in partnership with Masobe Books who are the publishers of the Nigerian Edition of this book. I was honored to moderate the event and having read and reviewed this book, I was excited to be in conversation with the author as I was armed with so many questions to ask.

The event was well attended by the book community in Lagos and it was a very enlightening session as the author threw more light on her work as a journalist where she had spent time in North Eastern Nigeria covering stories on the Boko Haram Terrorist attacks.

Here are some of the highlights of the event and responses to some questions that the author was asked.

adaobi 2Question: Tell us the amount of research that went into writing this book.

Tricia: There was no need for a research. The story in this book was based on my work as a journalist. I was in Chibok two weeks after the Chibok girls were abducted and made numerous trips to Chibok and other places in the north east covering this story which entailed interviewing dozens of girls and their families. My book is journalism masquerading as fiction.

Question: Why did you choose to make your protagonist nameless in your story?

Tricia: There was so much focus on the abduction of the Chibok girls and understandably so because of the international focus on these girls. However, the Chibok girls are just a fraction of the girls that have been abducted by Boko Haram. There were girls who had been abducted before the Chibok girls kidnap and others after them. We are talking about thousands and thousands of human beings so I couldn’t base my story on the Chibok girls alone. I couldn’t honestly write a story and ignore all the other girls. I wanted to represent all the people who were abducted by Boko Haram and that was why I made my main character nameless. She represents the Chibok girls and all the other girls who were abducted by Boko Haram.

Question: What was the experience like writing this book compared to writing your first book, “I Do Not Come To You By Chance”.

Tricia: They are completely different. While writing my first book, I had a lot of fun as I set out to write a humorous story. I found my characters quite funny and laughed a lot while writing it but with this book it was almost the opposite. I cried while writing some parts especially towards the end of the book.

Question: Knowing that this has been a controversial topic of some sort, have you received any critisims on this book?

Tricia: Yes but mostly my articles on the subject. I have written about women and girls who have voluntarily returned to their captors and that has been criticized because most people only want to see the abducted girls in a certain light. They want the girls to be seen as people who are suffering and traumatized because if they are seen otherwise, it may affect funding from international NGOs or donors who are committed to helping these girls. However, journalism has to represent reality which is what I have done. I have also been criticized about writing stories on some of the Boko Haram captors who claimed they were never raped by the Boko Haram since they were married to them before they engaged in any sexual activity and to them this doesn’t qualify as rape. However, most people insist it is rape as majority of these girls were underaged when they were abducted but the reality is the “victims” don’t believe that they were raped. This does not mean that some girls were not raped by their captors.

Question: You are the first contemporary African writer to launch a global career while fully domiciled in your home country. How did you do it and what advice can you give young aspiring writers?

Tricia: I followed the process. I researched on how to get published internationally and most of this information I found on google. I guess because I was determined to have an international career it drove me to learn about all the necessary steps to take like getting an agent and others. However, things don’t happen in a day so it’s takes time. This is the same with my career as a journalist, 99% of the people I write for I haven’t met them. You need to be determined and consistent, find out what kind of stories people want and pitch those stories. You may get some nos’ but if you are consistent the “yes” will come.

Question: What do you prefer to write? Fiction or Non Fiction

Tricia: Non Fiction

Adaobi 3There were also questions from the audience and the event ended with a book signing by the author.

I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and hope that it is a first of many to come.











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The Benefits of Reading Fiction: 5 Facts You should Know

I have always been an advocate of reading fiction whether you are young or old. It has always been a pleasurable pastime and a means to escape the real world since I was a young child. I have also learnt so much about people, places, personalities, food, etc. from reading fiction which has made learning easier and more enjoyable.

A lot of people see reading fiction as a waste of time and this stems from the notion that there are no benefits when you read fiction. They have been raised to see reading from an academic point of view where you are rewarded for reading. This is why you find most adults reading more non-fiction titles as they expect to learn one new concept or the other from them and don’t feel they would get the same rewards from reading fiction.

Unknown to most, fiction has quite a number of benefits that may even outweigh reading non-fiction and academic books. Research has shown that reading fiction plays an important role in our lives and wellbeing and here are 5 facts that may change your mind.


  1. Mental Stimulation : Reading fiction is a work out for your brain. Science tells us that it exercises your brain and improves your memory. It has been said to help reduce the risk of dementia and depression. It helps focus your energy, improves your concentration and sharpens your analytical skills. Reading fiction also plays an important role in building brain networks in children that will serve long term as they transition from speaking to reading. Children whose parents often read to them at home showed significantly greater activation of the brain’s left hemisphere. The left hemisphere of the brain is responsible for speech and the integration of sound with visual imagination and the development of this is key in children.


2. Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Reading fiction allows you to feel and live another person’s life, therefore it increases your empathy and your ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. Research has shown that people who read fiction performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence. These are skills that come handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking. This has been attributed to the fact that literary fiction often leaves more to the imagination, encouraging readers to make inferences about characters and be sensitive to emotional nuance and complexity.


3. Reduce Stress:

reading for stress reduction


4.  Expands Knowledge and Vocabulary: Fiction expands your mind and vocabulary as it enlightens, educates, entertains and inspires you on new things, people, places, cultures, ideologies and belief systems. You will usually encounter unfamiliar words which will cause you to stop and find out what it means which adds a new word to your vocabulary. The most interesting part of this is that it make learning enjoyable as it does not come with the pressures that academic learning brings. Reading also improves your writing skills as most good writers are usually voracious readers of fiction. Reading fiction will also help to improve your conversational skills as you will encounter a lot of this in fictional stories.


5. Pleasure: A Survey of 1,500 adults in the UK revealed that 76% of them said that reading fiction improves their lives and helps to make them feel good. This is the foremost reason why I read. It relaxes me and helps me escape from what is going on around me. This helps me to be calm and happy.

I encourage both young and old people alike to inculcate the habit of reading fiction and have the pleasure of all the benefits that it brings. My advise for those who are new to reading fiction will be:

  1. Start small by reading for about 10 minutes a day and increase as time goes on.
  2. Try audio books if you have been used to passing time on social media or games on your phone.
  3. Join a book club to where you will have people to encourage you.
  4. Borrow books from a library so you don’t spend too much money in purchasing books.
  5. Read book reviews and recommendations on book blogs and websites to have an idea of what may interest you.

I hope this will encourage you all to read more fiction titles in the future.Good luck!

Book Review: The Curse Of Happiness by Edify Yakusak

“I can’t believe I have lived my life for thirty years distracted by arrogant thoughts, subdued by things that do not matter, so much so that my existential dread has had to be activated by a maniac kidnapping me and feeding me fat. I think of all the times I was happy and profound guilt portends over me. I can’t believe I was so peaceful, calm and had the nerve to ask You for silly things. Just last week, I was thinking about how I needed to change my car. See how disgustingly happy I was. Look at me now…….Look at me now……” – Edify Yakusak in The Curse of Happiness

This book is surely a box full of pleasant surprises. I must confess the cover doesn’t do it justice and based on that I had mentally relegated it to the back of the long queue of books on my TBR but by a stroke of luck I picked it up and I was hooked.

“The Curse Of Happiness” is a collection of  8 short stories which mostly depict the ‘dark’ side of things when ordinary people are faced with challenging circumstances.

From the first story, “Baby, Blue, Joy”  which is about a woman who has been waiting for years to have a baby and after she is blessed with her bundle of joy, struggles with postpartum depression, to the last one, “What Is Mine, Is Yours” where a man who mostly works offshore, graciously allows his cousin who has accommodation issues to live in his house especially when he is hardly around. He returns home to find that he is a stranger and a suspected burglar in his own home. The author cleverly tells these realistic but unsettling tales about how and where everyday people tend to find themselves (physically, mentally and socially) when faced with trauma, illness, pain, fear and fate. I would describe her writing as vivid, shocking but fluid and I am already a fan.

My favorites are “Baby, Blue, Joy”, “A Little Kindness” , “Spinning In Circles”, “A Cold Star” and “What Is Mine , Is Yours”. All the stories are dark and in some cases quite scary to me. Naturally, it should be hard for me to say that I loved them but I did. I was pulled into this whirlwind of emotions that I can not fully explain, keeping me at the edge of my bed and making me let out screams that made my husband give concerned looks in my direction. My heart broke many times but I still had the nerve to continue reading on until I got to the last page.

My least favorite was “The Visitation” because I couldn’t really relate to the story. However, it was still a good read.

As a mother, I was particularly moved by the first story which is about a woman with postpartum depression and the fact that in our society, people don’t recognize or acknowledge that most new mothers go through this phase. I am glad that the author has written about this (although this was extreme in my opinion) and can only hope that this would trigger conversations in this respect.

I loved this book. It was a good read and a quick one too. I love the author’s imagination and her portrayal of emotions and events. They all seemed so real and personal therefore,  I highly recommend it to everyone but be prepared to hold your breath most of the way.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Published: 2019 by Kurdan Publishing

Pages: 174

Genre: Short Story Collection

Purchase from @rovingheights @thebookdealerng and @thebookmarket_ng on Instagram or Twitter

The Author: Edify Yakusak is a Lawyer. She is Bajju from Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing stories and screenplays. Her first book. After They Left, was adjudged as one on the top 10 fiction books in 2016 by the Channels Book Club.

Book Event: In Conversation With Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Award winning author, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani will be speaking about her new book “Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree” published in Nigeria by Masobebooks.

360e9e06-64c1-4071-8e4f-b3d824081b91I will be moderating this event and formally invite you all to be there.

The details of the event are as follows:

Date: Sunday, November 17, 2019

Time: 4pm to 6pm

Venue: Cafe One by sterling, Lennox Mall, Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos state, Nigeria.

Registration: Register for free via this link

The Author: Adaobi Tricia Obinne Nwaubani (born in 1976) is a Nigerian novelist, humorist, essayist and journalist. Her debut novel, I Do Not Come to you by Chance, won the 2010 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (Africa), a Betty Trask First Book award,and was named by the Washington Post as one of the Best Books of 2009. Nwaubani is the first contemporary African writer on the global stage to have got an international book deal while still living in her home country. Her Second Novel titled “Buried Beneath The Baobab Tree”  has won the RAVEN award for excellence in Arts and Entertainment and the 2019 YALSA Best Fiction Award for Young adults.

Save The Date and see you there!

Book Review: If You Keep Digging By Keletso Mopai Review by Guest Contributor: Aisha Musa

“Growing Caterpillar, “Tell me “, “he said”, What is this thing about time? Why is it better to be late than early? People are always saying, we must wait. What are they waiting for? “Well, “I said, feeling myself being led by Giovanni into deep and dangerous water, I guess people waiting order to make sure of what they feel”. – Keletso Mopai in Giovanni’s Room – If You Keep Digging.

This anthology of 15 short stories reflect the challenges of sexuality, traditional beliefs and family dynamics  that affect the youths in South Africa.

The story of “Professor Banda Not Unique” is an issue that is currently being spoken about more openly and victims are finding the courage to speak out.

“Skinned” highlights the challenges albinos face in the society and it is a relief that someone is talking about this discrimination which is not often spoken about or discussed.

“Growing Caterpillars” and “Becoming a God” border around relationships and struggles of disclosure, acceptance and expectations by family, the concept of beauty and what tradition accepts.

“Letty”, “Blood of Filth” and “Madness” are stories that highlight the unspoken abuse in families, the power of forgiveness and open disclosure of silenced emotions.

“Fourteen” and “Becoming a God” are based on African spirituality and after life. This one, I didn’t quite enjoy although as Africans, these traditional beliefs are a reality in our communities.

It was interesting to see how the author connected some of the stories (Papa’s name and Monkeys), however, the book would have been a more enjoyable read if the author provided a glossary for all the Afrikaans words used in the book. This made it difficult for me to really connect with some of the stories. Also some of the titles did not capture the essence of the story told and this kept me guessing what the author was trying relay through these titles.

This book was a good read but will not make it on my top list. I understand that the stories are a reflection of current realities but I would have loved it if a ‘happy story’ was thrown into the sea of sad stories. In life there will always be challenges but there are also happy moments too. I wish some of those happy moments were captured here.

I recommend this book mostly to South Africans and people interested in their history and current challenges.

Rating: 3 Stars

Published: May 1st, 2019 by Jacana Media

Pages: 172

Genre: Short Story Collection

Purchase @

The Author: Keletso Mopai is a South African storyteller whose work has been published in various highly regarded journals and listed for short story prizes. She majored in geology and chemistry, and has a Bachelor of Science honours degree in geology. ‘If You Keep Digging’ is her debut book.


Aisha MusaGuest Contributor: Aisha Musa
Aisha is a devout Nigerian Muslim, Geoscientist and mother. She loves reading both fiction and non-fiction books in her spare time, going on field expeditions and interacting with like – minds. She is an emerging voice for women’s development and empowerment especially in third world countries and strives to be a dependable role model to career women and mothers alike. She lives in Lagos, Nigeria with her family.