Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta

October 27, 2016 Historical Fiction 6

*This review contains some spoilers Set during (and after) the Nigerian civil war, 1968, Under the Udala Trees is a coming of age story of young Ijeoma, who grew up in the town of Ojoto, Nigeria. Her father committed suicide during the war, after which her grief stricken mother send her away to live with “the grammar teacher” and his wife, while she goes off to find herself again. The grammar teacher and his wife doesn’t have children and has agreed with her mother that they will take care of her, however they end up using her as a maid.  There she meets Amina, a Hausa girl, without family who most likely died during the war. Ijeoma is from the Igbo tribe and mixing with people from other tribes was frowned upon. However, the couple agreed for Amina to stay, considering she poses no problem for the family. Ijeoma and Amina’s friendship quickly turns romantic, when she has her first sexual awakening one evening with her friend Amina. When the grammar teacher and his wife finds out about this, they informed her mother who quickly came to collect her daughter. From then onwards, Ijeoma and her mother has a strained relationship… Read more »

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

October 17, 2016 Adult Fiction, Fiction 10

Psychological thrillers are slowly becoming one of my favourite books to settle down in bed with. The Girl on the Train was no exception. There are some comparisons to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, however I tend to disagree with that. The Kind Worth Killing had more similarities to Gone Girl than this one had. I have a tendency to like novels with unlikeable characters and none of the characters in The Girl on the Train are likeable. Rachel is the girl on the train. She has lost her husband to another woman, during a difficult time in her life: when she was struggling with alcohol abuse, a direct result of infertility issues.  Struggling to get pregnant took its toll on Rachel and she fell into a depression, while at the same time her husband started an affair with another woman, of whom Rachel found out about by mistake. Having lost her job and not wanting her house mate to find out about it, Rachel took the train into London every day, pretending that she is going to work. While on the train, Rachel observes a couple a few houses down from her previous home that is the picture of… Read more »

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

October 4, 2016 Childrens Fiction, Young Adult Fiction 10

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness is undeniably one of the best books I’ve read this year.  It’s a book I’ve always known I had to read, purely by how many people have recommended it to me. Upon finishing the novel, I knew how I felt about it, but I also knew that reviewing it wouldn’t be an easy task. I still am not quite sure how to write down my thoughts on this novel that has touch me in the way that it did. It deals with a boy’s journey to accepting his mother’s deteriorating illness and eventual death. Every night, 13 year old Connor has nightmares, until one evening a monster came to visit, one who wants the truth. The story is beautifully written, poignant and heartbreaking. It’s also a tale of a young boy who had to grow up too quickly, with having divorced parents, his dad living in another country and a broken relationship with his grandmother – all while having to deal with his mother’s fight against cancer, which takes a toll on him. Emotionally and psychologically. I haven’t read a book that has described death in such a compassionate way until I’ve read A… Read more »

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#30Authors: Rafia Zakaria reviews Look by Solmaz Sharif

#30Authors: Rafia Zakaria reviews Look by Solmaz Sharif

September 17, 2016 Guest posts, Poetry 3

Today, as part of The Book Wheel’s annual 30 Authors blog event, I’m hosting Rafia Zakaria, who will be reviewing Solmaz Sharif’s “Look”. #30Authors is an event started by The Book Wheel that connects readers, bloggers, and authors. In it, 30 authors review their favorite recent reads on 30 blogs in 30 days. It takes place annually during the month of September and has been met with incredible support from and success in the literary community. It has also been turned into an anthology, which is currently available on Amazon and all author proceeds go to charity. Previous #30Authors contributors include Celeste Ng, Cynthia Bond, Brian Panowich, and M.O. Walsh. To see this year’s full line-up, visit www.thebookwheelblog.com/30authors or follow along on Twitter @30Authors. Review The Watched and the Conquered: Solmaz Sharif’s “Look” By Rafia Zakaria “Whereas it could take as long as 16 seconds between the trigger pulled in Las Vegas and the Hellfire missile landing in Mazar-e-Sharif, after which they will ask ”Did we hit a child: No A Dog” they will answer themselves. So goes a line in “Look” the title poem in Solmaz Sharif’s collection of the same name.  Raw and searing, it is just one among many in the that take apart… Read more »

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When history repeats itself

When history repeats itself

September 14, 2016 Thoughts & Opinions 8

You know what they say about New Year’s resolutions, is that we never keep them. I, for one am quite sure of that, because even when I decided to make some I started off my post with “Although I’m usually oppose to having resolutions, because I never stick to them, I am most confident in my intentions in sticking to the ones I’ve made for this year”.    Not only did I contradict myself with that, I also did not stick to my intentions. With that being said, I might be exaggerating, because after reading this post again, I have unknowingly kept some of them.  I’ve brought up a topic that not many people have known about me: having an anxiety disorder. Which I’ve mostly left untreated, but when life happens and you can’t cope then things need to change. I take some prescribed medication when it all becomes a bit too much and I’ve also learned to not tap into negativity like I used to. That being said, I’m a much happier person. I’ve done only one re-read, so that might not count as having kept that resolution. However this past weekend when I was visiting my parents, I… Read more »

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The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos by Dominic Smith

September 2, 2016 Fiction, Historical Fiction 6

I got completely lost in the detail while reading The Last Painting of Sara de Vos.  Sara de Vos is the first Dutch woman painter in the Dutch golden age.  Her painting, called ‘At the Edge of a Wood’ is considered the last known painting of Sara de Vos and has been owned by Marty de Groot’s family for over three centuries. The story pans over two centuries, in which we explore Sara’s life in the 17th century. As an artist, the only way she could paint or sell her paintings was to be admitted to the Guild of St Luke in Holland, but as a female painter she also had other restrictions put on her – the fact that women couldn’t paint landscapes as they weren’t allowed to be outside. However, ‘At the Edge of a Wood’ is a landscape painting.  The painting itself is a dark and somber picture which was hugely inspired by the loss of her daughter and captures her grief. In 1958, a struggling art student called Ellie Shipley was commissioned to forge At the Edge of a Wood. Against all better judgement, she masterfully forged Sara’s painting. Marty, the current owner seems to believe… Read more »

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The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls by Emma Cline

August 17, 2016 Adult Fiction, Fiction 8

The Girls is the story of Evie Boyd, told in two time periods: her as a teenager and her as a grown up looking back onto that summer in 1969 when she joined ‘the cult’. Evie Boyd was a 14 year old girl who grew up in a broken home. Her parents got divorced and she was living with her mother, however her mother’s attention has been divided as she starts dating again. Evie is feeling lost, especially since she has fallen out with her best friend and happens to meet Suzanne quite by chance.  Suzanne is a few years older than her, but Evie is completely intrigued by her. The girl with the long black hair and carefree attitude and style of dress. She finds herself not being able to stop thinking about this girl, but then she runs into Suzanne again, who introduces her to her group of friends. She finds that Suzanne’s friends are different, but despite the warning signs, Evie spends time with them, because she finally feels like she belongs somewhere. What she finds is that this group of friends is more of a cult than anything else.  The leader of the group, Russell has… Read more »

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Instagram (bookstagram): A time wasting effort?

Instagram (bookstagram): A time wasting effort?

July 27, 2016 Tools & Social Media 23

A while ago, or more accurately, a year ago I wrote about social media on my blog. About how to save time on social media, twitter specifically, by using lists.  I am still bad at social media, I still haven’t tried out pinterest or snapchat and most likely won’t ever. But I’m here to tell you that having lists has saved me massive amounts of time, by being able to control what I see on twitter and making sure that the people whose tweets I most want to see, are always just a click away. Sometimes I missed so many good tweets and content, because they simply just disappear on my timeline, but with the lists, it’s helped me a lot by connecting with my peers, timeously. I have had an Instagram account for almost TWO years. Yes, two years.  I’ve never used it, so about a month ago I decided to just try it out and see if Instagram could be used as a nice social media tool to drive traffic to my blog and hopefully give my reviews more visibility.   Correction: I haven’t used the Instagram since October 2014! Wow — Melinda (@thebookmusings) June 29, 2016 The… Read more »

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The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

The Yearning by Mohale Mashigo

July 21, 2016 South African Fiction 2

The Yearning is the debut novel of South African author, Mohale Mashigo. It tells the story of Marubini,  a young African girl who is living a beautiful  and fulfilled life, working at a prestigious wine farm, living in beautiful Cape Town (the most beautiful city in SA, please don’t argue with me) and is involved in a steady relationship with her French restaurateur boyfriend. Her life sounds perfect, until the past she didn’t know about starts affecting her present. Mohale gives us insight into Marubini’s life by telling not only her present story, but stories of her childhood in flashback chapters. Of her relationship with her father and grandfather, who has passed when she was young and still feels the loss of them greatly in her present life.  Her tight knit relationship with her grandmother are also being explored as the only woman in her life who was prepared to be honest with her about her past/heritage. “Grief is so elusive, just when you think the worst is over, it comes back again to remind you how empty your life is without the person you lost” – page 45 Marubini starts suffering from nightmares and seizures, episodes that leaves her to… Read more »

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes {book and movie review}

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes {book and movie review}

July 1, 2016 Fiction, Movie Reviews 18

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes is that book that everyone swears you have to read. I’m always wary of the book hype, as I’m scared I’ll be disappointed. I have a friend who likes movie-date ultimatums: “You can’t watch the movie with me if you haven’t read the book!”. This happened with The Hunger Games, The Count of Monte Cristo and various other books. So when she said the book had her in tears, I agreed to read it, because I needed a good cry.   The Book: I read the book and got really into it about a quarter way into the book and couldn’t put it down. I finished it on a Sunday morning at 3am sobbing. The book broke my heart and I got the much needed good cry I needed. Normally I would describe what the book is about and give my opinion when I write a review, but then thought “Who doesn’t know what this book is about?”. Everyone I know has read it, but if you haven’t and still want to read the book before you see the movie (which I recommend you do), please don’t read the next paragraph, because it will… Read more »

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