Once Upon a Lane – Book Review

Once Upon A Lane


There once was a lane, filled with well-tended lawns and well-fostered friendships, of well-appointed houses all neat and tidy and those that live within, of stories and mysteries that manifest for only fleeting moments for the few who pay attention. This is one such tale. – By Duncan Wilson


Book Review

Once Upon a Lane is a tale about an ensemble of souls living as neighbors on the same street, each one with strengths and weaknesses, others hiding deep secrets behind closed doors.  These parts of themselves work to create a unique and pleasant community.

Duncan Wilson describes life along this lane with vivid imagery.  His characters constructed with careful detail that brings each one to life, making it easy to imagine them in the mind’s eye.  The hidden world that emerges in this lane is unique, full of childhood adventures, colorful garden spaces and fantastic characters.

Young Tommy is once asked, ‘How is the Lane today?’ and he answers, ‘It’s the same as it always is, idyllic.’  It is a perfect description of life in this community.

Wilson explores the human condition with his characers, carving out relationship bonds between friends, family, lovers, pets, strangers, and other…creatures.  The most charming of all these bonds are the children and their effortless bonds of friendship, easy love, whims of magical adventure and the imaginary worlds they create.

I enjoyed the adventures of the Youngest Murphy Boy the most.  His heart is full of loyal love and he manages to charm everyone he meets.  One would never guess he harbors any struggles born of emotional scars.  His friendliness is only second to lovers/partners, Ida and Ella, this epic couple that dishes out cookies and baked goods to the neighborhood.

The lane has a blight titled the House with the Dead Lawn.  Much of the story is centered on the mystery of this house that no one dares approach.  There is also Mrs. Habernathy, who is the least-liked character.  She is nosy, unpleasant, gruff and unfriendly.  She remains the one character whose story I would have loved a much deeper exploration.  I’m left infinitely curious of her inner world.

Once Upon a Lane follows an eclectic cast of characters.

They live their ordinary lives in a more than extraordinary stretch of road.  Their lives woven into a tight web of familiarity that is only possible in a community of neighbors.  Unseen among them is an extraordinary secret.

This secret rolls and pulses under the surface of their idyllic lives.  Epitomized in the form of a house with a dead lawn, and Mrs. Habernathy, whose behavior is at one point described as, ‘…disquieting and unnerving…’  This hidden mysterious secret drives the reader through the pages to a very startling discovery about Mrs. Habernathy and her connection to the house with the dead lawn.

I would recommend this book to anyone fond of slice of life stories filled with mystery, secrets behind closed doors, and love between family, friends and lovers.  Most of all, if you have imagined your community is hiding a secret, you definitely must read this book to discover what kind of secret it could be.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Unaffected Resolve – Review

The Unaffected Resolve

by Humphrey Osoro

The Unaffected Resolve Volume 1 is an introduction to Lisa Sagini.  She starts out unconscious and injured, but soon wakes up on the back of a cat-like creature.  She then discovers the world, as she knows it, has gone through an apocalyptic event.  The cat-like creature carrying her has chosen to save Lisa and her junior, a man named Orville.  His reasoning is that he can guarantee their survival and they in turn shall provide him vital information.

What Lisa Sagini wants to know most is why the world they knew had to change.  Why did they have to lose their friends and family?  How will they survive after this apocalypse?

However, the questions above are not tackled in this volume.

  Volume 1’s sole purpose is to introduce Lisa Sagini: who she is now and where she has come from.  Lisa is a soldier in the Kenyan Army, has a strong personality and it is clear that she is comfortable in her own skin.  Each scene is drawn to depict Lisa’s reality in vibrant colors and clear visuals and her memories serve to unfold the story.  Her narrative adds to the story as it transitions deeper into the past.

This introduction reads very fast, and leaves you with the familiar feeling of wanting to know more at the end of the volume.  I enjoyed reading this start into a post-apocalyptic Kenya and I find myself curious as to what would have led to the apocalypse.  Most importantly, how will Lisa survive in this new world?

I would recommend this volume to anyone +16 and beyond.  The volume does have some serious and violent content.  This is also a perfect start for someone who wants to read but doesn’t feel like they have time for an intensive novel.  The plot is strong and complex, with promise of more engaging story in the later volumes.

The writer and illustrator shared a copy of this comic with me. You can read it at this link: The Unaffected Resolve

Bingeing on Books – August Adventures

This month has been incredible, in that I found myself reading more books. I celebrate this kind of stuff. Because it’s easy to get lost in important activities during the day, or in conversations that leave you no time to take time and read a book. I’m grateful for the time to be in a quiet moment getting lost in different worlds, meeting characters and exploring alternate universes.

Here’s a list of books that I couldn’t put down for the month of August:

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi

They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.

Now we rise.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

I genuinely enjoyed reading this book. In it’s most purest form, this is a story about a young girl, Zelie, who wants to break out of the chains she finds herself living in. I love the adventure, and her courage, her anger and the serious ambition to change the status quo.

Don’t Read The Comments
By Eric Smith

Divya Sharma is a queen. Or she is when she’s playing Reclaim the Sun, the year’s hottest online game. Divya—better known as popular streaming gamer D1V—regularly leads her #AngstArmada on quests through the game’s vast and gorgeous virtual universe. But for Divya, this is more than just a game. Out in the real world, she’s trading her rising-star status for sponsorships to help her struggling single mom pay the rent.

Gaming is basically Aaron Jericho’s entire life. Much to his mother’s frustration, Aaron has zero interest in becoming a doctor like her, and spends his free time writing games for a local developer. At least he can escape into Reclaim the Sun—and with a trillion worlds to explore, disappearing should be easy. But to his surprise, he somehow ends up on the same remote planet as celebrity gamer D1V.

At home, Divya and Aaron grapple with their problems alone, but in the game, they have each other to face infinite new worlds…and the growing legion of trolls populating them. Soon the virtual harassment seeps into reality when a group called the Vox Populi begin launching real-world doxxing campaigns, threatening Aaron’s dreams and Divya’s actual life. The online trolls think they can drive her out of the game, but everything and everyone Divya cares about is on the line…

And she isn’t going down without a fight.

Son of the Morning
by Linda Howard

Grace St. John, a scholar, unwittingly discovers the Knights of Templar’s secret treasure. Suddenly, her life is upturned when she spies her boss murdering her husband and brother. With no reason to live, except to extract vengeance, Grace becomes a fugitive of the law as she attempts to find an explanation for this horrible act.
Grace simultaneously translates 14th century medieval documents written by Black Niall. This embittered knight reaches into Grace’s subconscious and the two begin to share dreams 700 years apart. A scholar specializing in ancient manuscripts, Grace St. John never imagined that a cache of fragile, old documents she discovered was the missing link to a lost Celtic treasure. But as soon as she deciphers the intriguing legend of the Knights of the Templar — long fabled to hold the key to unlimited power — Grace becomes the target of a ruthless killer bent on abusing the coveted force.
Determined to stop him, Grace needs the help of a celebrated warrior bound by duty to uphold the Templar’s secret for all eternity. But to find him — and to save herself — she must go back in time.

Summoning the magic of an arcane ritual, Grace steps back to the barren hills of 14th-century Scotland, enduring the perils of an untamed land to confront Black Niall, a fierce man of dark fury and raw, unbridled desire. Driven by a mix of fear and passion, Grace enlists this brazen knight to join her in a modern-day search for a killer.
In their quest to protect a timeless secret, they uncover a love for all time — and a deadly duel of honor that risks everything they have.

This one is a reread. I always find new things to enjoy in this book, and I love it. Plus I love the payphone vibes. Can’t believe payphones are now old world!

I hope you get a chance to check these books out and enjoy them as much as I did. Have a lovely August month!

Nakisanze Segawa’s The Triangle

#New African Reads

The Triangle 

b29edce1ad816c9c735d6147eeaea2cf783d1b62A gripping tale of intrigue and war in precolonial Africa. Two young people — Kalinda, a page in the court of the King of Buganda; and Nagawa, one of the king’s beautiful young wives — are swept up in conflict as missionaries, rival tribes and soldiers of fortune vie for power in what is now Uganda.

It is a time of upheaval in Buganda, an African kingdom on the verge of losing its independence. Anglican and Catholic missionaries are rapidly converting people to Christianity, in the process stirring conflict with their kinsmen who have embraced Islam. Three main characters – Nagawa, a young but unhappy bride to the king; Kalinda, a servant in the royal courts; and Reverend Clement, a Scottish missionary, are swept up in forces that will change their lives and reshape the future of their nation.

Thoughts:

Just got a message in my inbox about this book.  Unhappy Bride to a king, A servant in the Royal Courts, and Conflict in  the village….yeah, sign me up.  Looking forward to jumping into this gem in the coming days. Meanwhile, get your own copy here:

Amazon

Smashwords

The Unaffected Resolve – A 254Comic

The Unaffected Resolve

by Humphrey Osoro

The Unaffected Resolve is an ongoing fantasy/actionunaffectedresolve_1 graphic novel series that takes you into the mind of Lisa Sagini, a lieutenant in the Kenyan army, her apprentice ,Orville Mukau, and the mysterious cat creature that accompanies them through their adventures as they try to survive the horrors thrown against them, and to do that, they must have a resolve stronger than steel. It must be …Unaffected. Follow the saga to find out what happens.

Available on : 254comics.com

Cost: Kshs. 250

 

Thoughts:

unaffected-resolveHumphrey draws a tale about Lisa Sagini, who is in the Kenyan Army.  The story starts with a bang, a cat creature carries Lisa on it’s back, and that had me going what’s next.  Very strong strokes on the art, Osoro clearly defines each of his characters.  The tone is a bit darker than I’d like, but still it does not take out from the story, which leaves me waiting to see what more is in store for Lisa Sagini.

I have mad love for the otaku culture!  There was a time I thought I might start drawing a manga, but writing is more exciting for me.  Instead, I read comics and manga avidly.  I was excited to get to know this little gem, and from our 254 region.  I hope to see more from Humphrey, soon!

Follow Humphrey’s Blog to learn more.

The Virgin Journey – Book Review

The Virgin Journey

Book Review

51i7-ZqqunL._SX313_BO1,204,203,200_Gary Stokes is a struggling young American, who then lands a job with a press bureau based in East Africa and an expatriate is born.  Gary moves to Kenya, meets a fellow reporter, Guy, who helps him adjust to his new life.  Cue in intimidating government officials, unmovable landlords, and incidents unfolding in snooty exclusive membership clubs left behind by settlers—, Gary and Guy become lifelong friends.  In this new life, Gary soon discovers that life in East Africa requires an abundance of open-mindedness, patience and caution.

The Virgin Journey is an interesting perspective on life for an expatriate living in East Africa in the eighties.  Through Gary, Wampamba takes us through heavy issues present in the eighties and even now, like the first HIV epidemic, unrest in Uganda, bribes in government offices and racism in South Africa.  The change of perspective is refreshing, because she manages to make Gary’s immersion into these issues effortless, without seeming contrived, through experiences in Gary’s life.

At the core of Gary’s new life, is love: for his old home, his new home, his old girlfriend, and a new one.  The struggle to reconcile all these parts of him is real, and Gary’s character emerges as just a man, doing what he can to earn a living, and find happiness…albeit in the real jungle that is Africa.

 

What did I love about this book?

The change Gary goes through from the negative mess he starts out as at the beginning.  His quite uninformed view on our beloved East Africa made me remember a question I was once asked by an acquaintance…,

Do I live next to Lions in Africa?  Are they right next door?’  No, they’re not right next door, thank you.  They’d have me for dinner otherwise

Gary’s character had this annoying factor at the beginning for me.  However, that changes through the story, as he travels from one city to the next, experiencing the joys and beauties…as well as the bittersweet parts of East Africa, you find yourself sympathizing, rooting for him.

In all, this story is a great start to an unforgettable adventure in East Africa.  Two reporters work to tell the East African story, the best they can.  Wampamba stays true to the culture while adding her own zest into a growing love between two expatriates and their strong African princesses.

4.0 Stars

Get Your Copy: The Virgin Journey

Between Death and Heaven – Book Review

post

Exciting!

This blog now has 100 posts!

I have had a hundred things to say apparently.  I can’t wait to reach 200 posts, but for today, I celebrate the small victories.

And the Hundredth Post is…..

A book Review!

Between Death and Heaven cc17c55e97afe22d62da713a34496872607b649f

by Annemarie Musawale

What happens after we die? A vindictive ex-girlfriend (maybe, who knows?) is responsible for the death of happy lovers; Phil and Lillian. One minute they’re celebrating the possibility of a long life together, the next they’re contemplating eternity in the hospital where they die. Shenanigans ensue as they try to fit in with post-death society. What are the norms, who makes the rules and who can they ask about being taken to the leader. Can they still love each other and remain lovers in this brave new non-world? These are just some of the questions that Phil and Lillian are confronted with. Oh if only they’d appreciated contemplating their navels more when they were alive! Now there’s no choice, danger approaches and they must be in with the right people before it comes…or else.

Book Review

Between Death and Heaven/ In The Shadow of the Styx is a paranormal novel tackling the afterlife.  Phil and Lillian find themselves in a new world when they end up in the hospital after having severe food poisoning. In this new world, they are ghosts without a clear path as to where they should go, who they should be, certainly what they were doesn’t matter so much anymore. 

Lillian is eager to break through the barriers she and Phil face, and her courage sends them on a wild adventure to deliver an important message.  Well, it’s certainly a challenge, consider these two are dead, and therefore they are ghosts.  The use of cell phones, email, all manner of technology becomes obsolete. But not to worry, Musawale writes a great solution.  Plunging the reader into dramatic plots to obtain ingredients for spells, and witches who know it all.

Between Death and Heaven has an innocent charm to it, even while tackling heavy issues like revenge and murder. The fact that the afterlife is unknown allows Musawale to take advantage of imagination and create a world that manages to captivate.

The novel does introduce an array of characters, each one playing a role in Lillian and Phil’s adventure.  Each one with a mysterious background, or a legacy they can’t control or escape.  One thing’s for sure, the afterlife in Between Death and Heaven is not what you expect when you imagine death.

My only complaint was that it took a bit of getting used to Lillian’s lingo.  I understand Musawale was staying true to Lillian’s roots, and after a while, reading got easier, and I expected it from Lillian.  This is an interesting complaint, as it really depends on the reader’s preference.  Lillian does turn out to be a strong, young woman who loved a man enough to make a dramatic change in her life.  I liked her for that, and her amusing perspective on people and life in general.

Buy it here: Between Death and Heaven

4.0 Stars

About Annemarie Musawale:

Her Blog

Fire by Dora Okeyo – Book Review

419OY5W4jgLFire

by Dora Okeyo

A boy is born in the land of Leo. As the sound of the cattle horn is heard, everyone in the Kingdom celebrates the birth of not only a boy, but the Crown Prince. His name is Ustawi.

The hands that hold him foretell a prosperous future, but just like every dream has it’s valleys, so has Ustawi’s birth. One man has seen the evil that’s to befall the kingdom under the boy’s reign, his name is Ukweli. He is the Seer.

Fire begins the story of the Prince’s life and as you read through a story rich in culture and customs you can only ask yourself, can the Seer fight the gods? Can he avert the impending doom that’s to come?

Book Review

Fire is a unique literature story, that focuses on East African folklore.  Ms. Okeyo names her characters using the Swahili language.  Each name, symbolizing what the character should be, what they could or should stand for.  For example Ukweli in Swahili means Truth.  I found this characterization quite insightful. 

The story is quite simple, a Crown Prince is born into the land of Leo, the heir to his father’s throne, but instead of joy, the Seer, Ukweli is tormented by dreams of doom and darkness as he foresees the worst.  According to Ukweli, the land of Leo is going to face hard and dark times under the rule of Crown Prince Ustawi.  Tormented by this dreams, Ukweli goes on a journey hoping to find a solution, and on his journey, he finds more questions, and proof that Prince Ustawi’s reign will cause pain to the people of Leo.

Ms. Okeyo paints a great folklore tale, weaving in East African’s own culture into her story.  You’re treated to scenes of palatial huts, cloaks made with animal skin, and elders in a circle, and that just made me smile.  The genre is a different approach for Ms. Okeyo, I’ve only read romance stories from her before, but this is different and she’s set herself apart with Fire.

It did take me a lot longer to read.  You really need to settle down and get through each page to understand why Ukweli is moving from one place to another, and enduring so much torment.  This is not a complaint, more of a judgment of my own reading capabilities, I think.  I need to hone them, or something…^_^! It reminded me of reading a literature set book, you gotta keep your focus to understand what’s going on.  This is not your fast romantic tale, definitely requires undivided attention. Once you get going, Fire is a captivating read!

Get a Copy today!

About Dora Okeyo:

I am a full time wanderer for now. You’ll find me within the pages of a book.  I have written some books, why don’t you read them and get a glimpse.

Connect with Dora:

Facebook: Dora Achieng Okeyo (like her page)

Twitter: @herhar (Follow her)

Her Books: Dora’s Books

Somewhere Else by Mathew Shenoda – Poetry Review

somewhere elseSomewhere Else

by Mathew Shenoda

From the river Nile to the teeming streets of Cairo, from the indigenous, pre-Islamic Egyptian Coptic civilization to an America struggling with its fear of the Arab world, Shenoda’s poems recall the sacred traditions of an ancient, enduring culture as they widen the political conversation surrounding ethnicity, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism. This notable collection spans generational, political and cultural divides, providing a nuanced perspective virtually unknown in the West.

Publisher: Coffee House Press, Minneapolis

Purchase Here: Somewhere Else on Amazon

Favorite Poems from this Book:

Excerpt of Somewhere Else

...
There will come a day when they say: 
who do you think you are 
and another day will come 
for you to tell. 

On that day the story will appear 
but do not tell of yourself 

tell the story of the staff that blossomed in the desert
or the one about your enemy’s greatest victory

tell the story of somewhere else...Read This Poem

Excerpt of New Cairo

…I stand on the balcony, staring

Withdrawn from this poverty by a mere Generation,

Then I remember

Great Grandmother used to say:

“If you throw salt away

God will make you

Pick it up

One grain at a time

with your eyelashes”

Take a moment and just imagine what it would take to actually collect salt one grain at a time with your eyelashes.  Yes, there would be tears, what an impossible task, you’d say.  At first, I laughed at the idea of Great Grandmother’s statement, but then you think about it and it’s eye opening. If you’re desperate you’ll do it, right?  You’ll find a way to collect that salt with your eyes, but what a painful process that would be.  So, don’t throw away a good thing…hmm…

Mathew Shenoda’s thought-provoking Poetry = Stunning, Effortless Truths

Elly in Nairobi Thoughts

Mathew Shenoda writes poetry with a deep love for heritage and culture.  There is always that sense of go back, think about where you come from, how it has shaped you, why you are this person today. I think this book reminds me to remember where am from and where I belong.  Where is home? What does that word mean really?

Time changes, as it must, we all change, but even with change, stop and embrace what your past is, how you’ve gotten here.  What were your ancestors’ hopes, one day you’ll be the one they’ll call ancestor.

What do you want them to think of you?

Immortal Blood- Book Review

Immortal BloodImmortal Blood

by Magen McMinimy

A perfect night on the town turns out to be her worst nightmare. A date with a handsome man is the catalyst for events that she thought only happened in fairy tales. Thrust into a world of danger, Isabelle has no idea what is in store for her as the Light and Dark Fae fight over her future.

Isabelle Moreno is a young woman working her way through life, finding little time for love and adventure. Until she agrees to a date with a mysterious stranger, only to find out the secrets this man holds are something she could have lived her entire life without knowing. The Dark Fae Luck Eater has found something enticing in Isabella’s humanity.

Bain is an arrogant playboy and an Immortal Light Fae Warrior. He and his four brothers fight for the safety of the human race while remaining something of myth. After weeks of tracking the Dark Fae Luck Eater, Bain comes across yet another victim, in Isabelle.

Bain has finally found his match in this feisty human as she fights against him and her ever growing attraction to the Immortal who is bound to protect her.

Book Review:

The story starts with Izzy going on a date with a handsome man named Zander.  This is her first date in a while, and she only agreed to it because her younger sister Marie urged Izzy to enjoy the last year of her twenties and put herself out there.

She’s liking this Zander guy and agrees to a nightcap with him, so off they go.  In comes two warriors, Uriah and Bain, who are hot on Zander’s heels.  Apparently, Zander is a vicious thief who steals luck from successful women.  Why?  Because he is a leprechaun and therefore Fae…for a moment, my mind flashes back to Lost Girl and the bi-Succubus who rules that town…lol…back to Immortal Blood.  Poor Isabelle is saved by Bain and Uriah, but they were a tad late and she’s lost a lot of her luck.  She’s falling on her face, almost getting knocked by a truck, and generally her happy date has turned into a nightmare as Bain and Uriah unveil great huge wings, that leave her disbelieving.

Now that Zander has her luck, Bain is tasked to protect Isabelle as Zander will want to come back for more. And because she refuses to leave with Bain, he is forced to stay at her house until she agrees to leave with him.   Bain is a spoiled brat, a playboy, and the most arrogant man Isabelle has ever met, and because of that, she makes it a point to be as stubborn as she can be, when he makes unreasonable demands.  The best part of this story is the dance between Bain and Isabelle.  He likes her because she stands up to him, she does her best to counter his arrogant ways, and grudgingly likes him as she gets to know him.

I love the twist on the Fae world. I find the funny play on Vampires and Bain’s Immortal Warrior interesting.  The writer paints her own take of the magical world, giving it an identity that’s refreshing and at the same time familiar.  The plot is strong, and the characters lovable.  I had no problem reading through this in one sitting.  I’d recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy novel.

I got this book from Amazon.

Currently available on your Kindle: Here