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Category Archives: Reviews

For all kinds of reviews on things i encounter, but mostly books.

A Pinch of A Review and A dash of a Poem


“The buying of more books than one can read is nothing less than the soul reaching toward infinity.” 

~A. Edward Newton~

“A bibliophile of little means is likely to suffer often. Books don’t slip from his hands but fly past him through the air, high as birds, high as prices.” 
~William Lyon Phelps~

As my field work intensifies, so do my posts become more and more sporadic. I am here to amend that however for the present moment, so on to our lovely day’s agenda. Since I have been on the road for most of this month, I have been soaking in a lot of books, but before I go on excitedly about my new library additions, let me shed a little light on last month’s book-club read, “Purple Hibiscus” by Nigerian-born Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The book is set in post-independence Nigeria and circles the daily happenings of the members of a well to do family and their struggles with a controlling overly religious( almost a zealot)  father as the main antagonist. The story as seen from the eyes of a teenage girl (the younger of the 2 siblings), Kambili, is both very descriptive and if I may say genuine and raw. The author is able to pull you in two directions at once and show you real moral dilemmas that face real African people. Its needless to say that I absolutely loved it and I was thoroughly disappointed at not having a chance to dissect it over a hot cuppa tea! My fantastical vision of what the book-club meeting would be, but was not to be, since I was not in attendance (i desist from expounding 😦 …sigh!) The book really resonated with me and I could not put it down at all,reading it everywhere especially in matatus. Lol!

September book-club read

Matatu readers will understand that,though there is nothing worse than being stuck in notorious Nairobi traffic, it is a saving grace to be unavoidably stuck with a good book! It is like a a quiet way of yelling, “Suck on that Traffic!!! “. Annnnnnnnnddddd we move away swiftly from these and other small victories on to the massive victory of book-thrifting. There is this street where I always find such treasures for as little as Kshs. 50 and I inevitably cannot resist the urge to fill my tiny house with yet more books that I intend to read. You can say I’m a bit of a bibliophile. It is right outside the old Ukwala Supermarket on your way to bus-station from Afya Centre. They are old and dusty and smell of such knowledge, I digress however. My most valuable find for this week is “The Time Traveler’s Wife” by Audrey Niffenegger, which has become my favorite traffic read. The movie was magnificent and I have been wanting to read the book having discovered that the movie was an adaptation. Later analysis coming up soon, stay tuned folks!

Book thrift- Kshs. 50

I knew this was going to be a bumper post, but stick with me its almost done :). I was on my way to yet another interview for work today and this poem simply made its way from my day-dreaming to my notebook. Check it out and let me know what you think please.

 

SMILING IN TRAFFIC

 

5 am, rise and stretch

Still sleepy, need to pray.

Where’s my toothbrush?

Pizza breakfast yay!

 

6.15 am, we’re rushing out

Three flights down

Lets hit the road

Monday Morning Rush!

 

An hour later

Still in a ‘jam’

Happy and contented

“Weekend success?”

My eyes silently ask

“Yes! Indeed it was!”

His own answer mine

We Smile.

 

Earphones out

Local radio shows

Lulling him to sleep

I take out my book

‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’

We share the earphones

And Smile

I doze off.

 

8 am, I’m already there

Let’s goodbye now

“Can’t wait till next time”

My eyes quickly say and shine

We Smile again.

 

Happy to share

Some special secret

Reveling in its exclusivity

“Thank you”. My eyes speak

He smiles again, “You’re welcome”

And off to work I get

 

My heart is full

I dance as I walk

And think of

Peace and

Peppermint tea and of

Smiling in traffic.

 

Have a good week folks! This month’s book-club read: “One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

October Book-club Read

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“The Kamasutra”

 “Vatsyayana says, that as variety is necessary in love, so love is to be produced by means of variety” 

“Though a man loves a girl ever so much, he never succeeds in winning her without a great deal of talking” 

~Vatsyayana (“The Kamasutra”)~

I have been crazy busy off late and consequently neglected to write but with a few stolen minutes this is is my review on ” The Kamasutra” by Vatsyayana. So I am here to set the record straight:

1. It is not a book of pictures of sexual positions (somebody say gutter?) it in fact, has not a single picture!

2.It is not a book of sage wisdom on sexual positions either

3. it is also not an instructional manual for sex (u can check out sexykenyan.com or crocodildo.com for those 😉 , sorry no links, ha!)

It is however, a book on sexual relations. At least that part is down right with most people I have spoken to. It was written by Vatsyayana (not sure why he/she didn’t have another name, or who they really were as an authority on sex, so to speak…) and not much is said of the author anyway. It seemed more like the book came from the opinions of very well known Indian “sex experts” (term very loosely used) and was actually written by their scribes or followers/ believers.

That aside however, it starts off on explanations on the different levels of passion in both men and women and of different kinds of sexual union and the right or wrong status of said unions according to Indian culture (no mention of which religion was subscribed to at the time, but am guessing it might have been Hindu- am not positive on that fact). After the first few chapters that discuss the do’s and dont’s of sex in a very narrow view, the rest of the book delves into the living situations of lovers and marriages and the guidelines need to follow a whole array of things such as; juggling lovers, seduction, extortion of lovers and love games as part of a climb to fame and fortune.

I will not lie, this read was purely out of curiosity and I am even a bit surprised that I managed to finish it (I’m notorious for book abandonment and floozyness with books). I certainly did not enjoy reading this book. It felt very biased to me as a woman and not at all considerate of all the factors that play into everyday life. It was too its-a-man’s-world for my liking, despite the fact that I knew it was written about a century ago and it was a man’s world then, I just kept forgetting the fact and sneering at the writer’s audacity as I read. My personal opinions aside, it is quite informative on many levels especially if you find yourself in a less than moral situation with no qualms about being selfish and hedonistic.

Rating: **

In other news, I am currently and hurriedly engrossed in my book club read for this September (happening on Friday the 28th- tomorrow people! yikes! at the iHub between 1&2 pm) “Purple Hibiscus” by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Purple Hibiscus- Matatu reading

So far all I can say is…superb! I don’t think I will be going for lunch today 😉 can’t get enough. The discussion tomorrow should be interesting, stay tuned for a run-down this weekend.

Have a happy Thursday people!

Book grief and A Tea cocktail

Thank God its Friday!!! The week has been a really hectic one and I have not had a moment’s peace to collect my thoughts till now, so the post will be short (phew!) Moving along however, I finally finished my ‘comfort read’- David Copperfield. I call it my comfort read because I have been reading it for the past 3 months now and I just always had it to fall back on when I was in a waiting situation, since it’s on my phone and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I think it was because I completely fell in love with the characters and I could not bear the thought of saying good-bye…oh well! It’s over now and I don’t know what to do with my life. (I kid :p) All the same,  am without a comfort read and kinda feeling lost at sea. Any suggestions at this juncture would really lift my spirits.

David Copperfield is a life story of, yes, you guessed it! David Copperfield. It’s a timeless classic, written in a somewhat more romantic style than other Charles Dickens works. It’s a typical highs-and-lows type of self narration that depicts all angles of human interaction, more so in an emotionally objective kind of way (if I may) and it captures all types of personalities and characters that engross and enchant (sigh!). Dora (David’s first wife), her dog Jip, Agnes (his childhood friend), his Aunt and Mr.Dick form a part of his family and friends and Uriah Heep, Miss Dartle and Littimer are the well-formed villains of the work, not forgetting the occasional frenemy- Steerforth and many more who help to make the situations as real world as possible. It will definitely be hard to replace it in the comfort read department.

Earlier in the week I did try to start reading “The Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, but got lost in all the Southern drawl speak and the story bore no substance for philosophically and so I left it. It may have been because I was trying to read it in a coffee shop with the rain pouring outside and I kept getting distracted by the passersby and the havoc the city descends into at the threat of moisture in the sky, I digress however. The coffee shop in question is a new discovery opposite Nation Centre in Nairobi, Gibsons Coffee. I had a Tea cocktail (which is simply the mixed tea or chai latte with a shot of syrup) as I waited for my date. The hazelnut syrup made the tea taste a bit medicinal,but the caramel syrup was just right. I can’t wait to go back though and try the chai latte with the almond syrup and whipped cream topping. Yum!

I must dash off for prayers but not before divulging my weekend read…”The Kamasutra” by Vatsyayana should be interesting 😉 lol look out for the review on Monday. Ciao people and enjoy your weekend!!

“A Song of Fire and Ice: Feast for Crows”

Hope your weekend was as fabulous as mine, had tons of fun laughing, cooking, eating but most importantly reading!! I just love finishing a book over the weekend, because that means that my Monday gets to be a bit less dreary by starting a fresh book! Yes, yes there is no greater joy to this week, but alas! i miss the point.

Today’s post will be on the review of the book I just conquered, “A Song of Fire and Ice: A Feast for Crows” by George R.R. Martin. While I rarely like to read popular works, being the closet-snobby-book-hipster that I am with a preference for the classics, I just could not resist the call of the famously popular epic fantasy series that Martin has churned out. I will confess, I discovered the books soon after I thoroughly enjoyed watching the HBO hit series ” A Game of Thrones” which I watched on DVD. I didn’t read the first book since I knew how it was going to end from the series (with the beheading of our beloved Lord Eddard Stark :(, real tragedy) and that was enough of a spoiler to get me to overlook the first book. However, my appetite had been whetted for the second book, “A Clash of Kings” and so the love affair with  a member of the “dreaded” pop-lit began. I will review the 4th book since I feel the others have gone stale for me as I read them a while back.

The fourth book  “A Song of Fire and Ice: A Feast for Crows” starts off where the third one ( “A Song of Fire and Ice: A Storm of Swords) left off, with the battle among  four kings’ claims to the Iron Throne of Westeros, One of them (Renly Baratheon) having been killed in the prequel. We encounter half of the characters from the previous books as they continue to find their way through the land of the Seven Kingdoms and pick up the pieces of their lives after the battles are done, but the war wages on off the battlefield. New alliances are made and more characters are killed as we follow Sansa Stark still in King’s Landing and her unexpected groom. Arya Stark is still missing and having adventures at every turn. The Ironmen on their endeavor to be part of the war still hold the Northlands and grow ever more ambitious. Cersei and her twin Jaime continue to struggle to live up to their tryant father Lord Tywin. Samwell Tarly and his escapades with the dreaded Others on the Wall. The Martells of Sunspear in Dorne, Brienne of Tarth and a few other minor and surprising characters that help to sweeten the tale. By the end of the book, only two kings are left to claim the Iron Throne, with more betrayal taking place on every page.

“A Feast for Crows” follows in the epic fantasy footsteps of its prequels and generally of  Martin’s other books (titles of which can be found here). The books have been compared in the past to the works of J.R.R Tolkien (author of the “Lord of the Rings” series), and I have to agree there is some similarity between the books. They are both epic fantasies about a fictional world full of amazing landscapes and great beasts and unusual characters that are oddly relatable to the readers. Yet the similarities end there, while Tolkien’s works were instant classics in my opinion, they were very clear-cut in terms of telling the story of good triumphing over evil. Though the saga was fraught with lots of twists and turns, the plot and the characters were maturely developed, yet remained simple, and we either loved them or hated them. On the other hand, Martin’s works are full of unexpected heroes and villains and his plot development a big mind-boggling, but all the same very entertaining. His characters are very complex and bring to mind the good and bad in all of us, which lead me to be constantly be confused over whether I love them or hate them.

As much as I loved the book, this installment lacked the fevered excitement I found so compelling in the second and third books. It moved along at a sustained pace however, with a shocking end to every chapter that provided the needed push to tackle the next chapter.

Rating: ****

Now that I have started on my fresh book, look out for a review next Monday. Happy week people!!

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