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Saturday, 29 July 2017

32 Books in 30 Weeks-My 2017 Reading Journey


This year like every other, my aim was to read 24 books, but since joining the #readthonwithoa challenge on Instagram with Ope Akinbo where the goal was to read one book per week, I had to double my reading effort. When I initially joined the challenge, I thought it was going to be impossible for me to achieve this, but we're currently in week 30 and I have read 32 (and half of two different) books so far (let me digress a bit, there's an amazing person I follow on Instagram who has read 108 books this year as at the time of writing this post, follow her here on Instagram). 
In this post, I will be sharing how I have been able to read more despite a very busy schedule and I really hope you find these tips useful:

  1. Find your favourite book genre: There are so many book genres out there such as Crime, Romance, Sci-fi, Inspirational, African literature and so on, find the one(s) you love and stick with it. Personally, I like most book genres apart from Sci-fi, so I never force myself to read Sci-fi books.
  2. Always carry a book with you: No matter where I'm going, there's always a book with me, and if I can't go out with any other thing except my phone, there are two apps installed on my phone which I use for reading-Amazon Kindle and iBook app.
  3. Reduce TV time: I know this is hard to do as some of us are TV junkies. I'm a crime series junkie, but I cut down my TV time drastically (my husband is not too happy with me about this because I forced him to upgrade our DSTV subscription, but I have watched TV even less)
  4. Schedule a reading time: Take time out of your extremely busy schedule to read every day even if it is as little as 5 minutes-this quickly becomes a habit.
  5. Make good use of social media: If you're short of ideas about what to read, search on Instagram using hashtags such as #books#bookstagram#bibliophile, #bookstagrammer, etc, you'll be surprised the number of readers in the Instagram community who read, discuss and post their current reads. Also, following authors, publishers and bookstores on social media will give you ideas on what to read next which is better than scrolling endlessly through social media.
  6. Join a book club: Joining a book club made me read one extra book each month because we all must discuss about the book at the end of every month, and it's not fun to be left out in such discussions.
  7. Talk about books: One of my favourite people to have bookish discussions with are my bookworm cousins, trust me it's amazing their level of intellectual reasoning
  8. Have a reading list: Every new book I want to read goes to my endless reading list. This means I always have something to read (my reading list for 2017 can be found here).
  9. Do a book swap: Books can be expensive, but sometimes it helps if you do a book swap with others, that way you don't have to buy a book but you can read more without limitations. However, if you're not comfortable lending out your book, please don't do this.
  10. Read book reviews: Sometimes deciding on which book to read can be a bit tricky, and at other times, if a book you're currently reading is not enjoyable, it will help if you read reviews from other readers on platforms such as Goodreads and Amazon.
  11. Write a review: If you can, write a review about a book, it helps you remember what you read about the book and you're also helping some other reader decide on whether to read a book.
  12. Attend bookish events: If you can, attend book events such as book festivals, author tours, and book reading events. That way, you get to network with other readers, as well as authors, bookstores, and publishers. Sometimes, you could even get a free book or discount prices on books.
So, that’s my 2017 reading journey so far and how I have been able to pull through. Do you have other tips you have used and would like to share or maybe you’re currently facing some challenges with reading, how can I help?
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Monday, 10 July 2017

Book Review: What it Takes By Lola Akande


A friend gave me this book to read when I told him I wanted to embark on a PhD program here in Nigeria.


What It Takes tells the story of Funto Oyewole, a middle-aged lady who decides to embark on her PhD program at the fictional university, National University of Nigeria, Abuja, shortly after losing her job at the federal civil service. She assumed a higher qualification would get a better job but she was so wrong.

She started and finished the program quite alright but it was not without crazy experiences. First, her process of getting a faculty member to accept to supervise her work was hilarious and sad, there was the male sexual predator, then the materialistic woman, before she was eventually accepted by a faculty member who she had no idea was a terrible ethnic bigot until another PhD student informed her of this and she personally experienced difficulties from him. 

Her supervisor was very mean and she deployed means such as corrupt inducement and physical appeasement to get the man to look at her work. Despite these, the man was not willing to read her work.

Although she wrote her thesis within the first two years of her program, she spent about 11 years in total before she graduated. In this period, her daughter had graduated from secondary school and university (lets not forget strike actions by the Academic Staff Union of Universities), and she had even started her NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) before her supervisor finally had time to read her work.

Funto was lucky she had someone to sponsor her program as I can't imagine how she would have managed if she did not have a good friend to put her through.

I think this story tells the typical challenge most individuals go through in order to secure a PhD program here in Nigeria and this is very sad. Although there were some parts of the story which was funny, it made me really have a re-think about doing my PhD in Nigeria.

I like that the story mirrors the struggles of securing not just a postgraduate degree, but any degree at all here in Nigeria. I also liked that the story subtly touched on other societal challenges such as poor electricity supply and highway armed robbery.

What I did not like from the story is that Funto had siblings, but she did not seem to have any relationship with them. I think that in the average African family, relationships are closely knitted I was therefore surprised that there was no communication at all between them.

I rate the book 3.5 out of 5 stars, and it's book 32 of 52 for 2017.

Book Details
Blurb:
What it Takes is a sad, vivid expose, of a typical Nigerian University doctorate programme that gleefully cannibalises the best of its own. It is a story of discouragement of excellent academic pursuits, depicting the prevalence of favouritism, ethnicity, nepotism, corruption, lust, needy culture and other negative tendencies currently ravaging the knowledge industry in Nigeria.

The Heroine, Funto Oyewole, a middle-aged and ambitious woman, tells her own story about her dreams, hopes, aspirations, enthusiasms, disappointments and misery as a doctorate student, and how her zeal, high energy and enthusiasm are gradually replaced by frustration and despondency, which hasten her aging process, as her hope of earning a PhD through hard work becomes increasingly elusive.

Number of Pages: 316
Publication Details: Kraftgriots, November 2016.

Photo credit: Me | Book detail credit: goodreads.com
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Thursday, 6 July 2017

Book Review: Beyond Blue By Toluse Dove Francis

I don't like to drop one book to read another, instead I just flip through the new book and come back to it later, but when I got a copy of this book and flipped through it, I put everything else aside to really read and comprehend it.

Beyond Blue touches on a topic that is hardly addressed in Nigeria-Grief, and its many different forms such as the loss of a loved one, job loss or any other event that could throw one into that state. I have to give kudos to the author because apart from carrying out research on the topic, he also related his own experience while grieving the loss of some loved ones, and I think that might have contributed to him writing the book.

The book helps the reader understand what grief is about and how to deal with it either as one grieving or providing care for someone who is. I was able to relate to this book as I have also lost some people who were close to me in the past.

I like that the book is a very short read as it took me about one hour to read. I think this is good because a grieving person or care giver may not be in the mood to read and a short read which is apt and concise on how to deal with the present circumstance will do just fine.

I'll recommend it to anyone who wants to understand what to do and how to cope during grieving in case the need for it ever arises.

I'll give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars, and this is book 31 of 52 for my 2017 reading list.


Book Details
Blurb: At one point or the other in our lives, we all find ourselves passing through grief, either a major one or minor. Beyond Blue is written for you - whether you're personally going through grief or helping someone recover from the impact of grief. This short but powerful book will lead you on the path out of grief, loss or depression. Incomplete recovery from grief can have a lifelong negative effect on our capacity for happiness. Drawing from my personal history as well as from others'. In this book, the author illustrates how it is possible to recover from grief and regain your mental health. 

Publication Details:
Published June 14th 2017 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform


Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review

Buy: Amazon

Book details and Photo credit: goodreads.com
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Monday, 3 July 2017

Book Review - And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini


And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini was our June Book of the month in my book club, so it became book number 29 of 52 in my 2017 reading list. I have read other books by the author and they were all emotional and heart wrenching books for me, I think this is the mildest of all of them.


The book starts with a father telling his children a bedtime story about a mysterious creature that visits the village to demand children from any family it chooses. When I read that part of the book, little did I know that that was just a summary of the entire story.

The first part of the story was set in a fictional village in Afghanistan and follows the lives of a man, Saboor who was forced to sell his daughter, Pari to a richer family (the Wadhatis) in Kabul . Apart from Pari and her family members both before and after she was sold, the story also had other characters whose path crossed with members of Saboor's family. It shared how the family coped and moved on, the lives of the rich family and even some excerpts from life after the war in Afghanistan.

The story brought to the fore one of the many many travails of poor people in the society, and how the struggle for their daily survival.

Likes: I liked that the story covered several places in a number of countries such as Spain, France, Afghanistan, Greece and USA as this rekindled my love for traveling. I also liked that the story ended with the girl who was sold, Pari, eventually found and how she was re-united (she had become a grandmother by the time of the reunion) with her brother's daughter (also named Pari). 

Dislikes: I did not like that at the time of the reunion, her brother was now old and had lost memories of her. I also did not like that the the voice behind the story was the plastic surgeon who had helped in reuniting the family. I would have preferred if it were told by say, the boy whose sister was sold or the man who was in charge of the sales transaction (Uncle Nabi, who happened to be the girl's step uncle).

The part of the story I like the most was definitely the ending part when the reunion happened while the most scary part was a sub-story about a girl who was almost hacked to death by her uncle, after the same uncle killed every other member of the girl's family-that sub story was just deeply sad.

In summary, the book was a happy and sad one for me.

Book Details:
Blurb
Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.


Publication details: May 21st, 2013 by Riverhead books (first published February 29th 2012)
Version Read: PDF copy
Number of pages: 242

Book Details and Photo credit: goodreads.com
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Thursday, 29 June 2017

Book Review: Mrs Unmarried by Chinelo Mgbeadichie

Mrs Unmarried is an absolute page turner.

From the first paragraph of the book up till the end was absolutely stunning for me.

The book mainly set in Lagos, Nigeria tells the story of a woman, Ezinne who was facing domestic violence in the hands of her husband. Her husband not only abused her verbally, he also abused her emotionally and sexually and was even cheating on her.

She was lucky to have a friendly neighbor become friends with her and help her in the process of unburdening and finding herself again. Ezinne had suffered so much in the hands of her husband, Chukwuma, that she began to have a low self-esteem. It did not also help matters that her sister-in-law did not like her and Chukwuma succeeded in making Ezinne cut off communication from her own family.

Eventually, she was able to escape and with the help of a friend, she began to get back on her feet again, shortly after, her husband was murdered and she was the prime suspect.

The book for me is coming at a time when Nigerian women and hopefully African women are beginning to find their voice and speak against all forms of marital and domestic violence. I hope the book conveys to readers how domestic violence starts in subtle forms and that the opinion of one's parent is very important in marriage (this is not to say that they are always right, but sometimes they can see beyond our mushy feelings).

The story also captured how terrible and messy the justice system in Nigeria can be. I was intrigued that the author introduced a private forensic investigator to the book. It was remarkable and I hope they truly exist and are utilized in Nigeria.

Likes: I liked that Ezinne did not eventually get married some other guy, that would have made the story very typical and cheesy. I also liked that the story was not too religious, there were bits and pieces of christianity in some parts of the story but it was not overwhelming. My favorite part was the plot twist at the end. The murderer was not who I was thinking at all, this was one of the reasons I kept reading until the end as I wanted to find out who the murderer was. And that explains the cover of the book! The realization of this is absolutely amazing!

Dislikes: The story ended in the future-2019. When I read that part, it got me wondering what the author had in mind.

The book took me 3 days to read as it was difficult to put down and is my number 30 of 52 books for this year.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Book Details
Ezinne is an abused, battered and broken wife whose husband is murdered in their home, she is the prime suspect and the world is looking at her because she had motive and opportunity but will her lawyer be successful in saving her life or is she doomed because of his death?
Suspense, Intrigue, Drama, Mystery, Crime, Sizzling and Sensational! You dont want miss this!



Kindle Edition, 395 pages

Published May 21st 2017

Source: Review copy from Author

Disclaimer: I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Buy on Amazon

Photo credit: Kindle copy;  Book Detail credit: goodreads.com
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2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
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