Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

#Book Review
Historical Fiction | War | Love | Politics

An incredible novel that tells us about the Biafran civil war of Nigeria and how the lives of people are affected by the turbulence of war. It is a powerful and impactful story about Nigerian history that also discusses relationships and love. 

The story begins with Ugwu, a simple Igbo village boy who goes to a town called Nsukka to work as a houseboy for Odenigbo. Odenigbo is a mathematics professor who can speak confidently about many intellectual topics. He is a socialist and loves discussing politics. Odenigbo is in love with a woman called Olanna who is often treated with love and respect by everyone because of her striking beauty and kindness. Olanna has a twin sister, Kaniene who is not as beautiful as Olanna but is super confident, sophisticated and handles her father’s businesses. There is another character called Richard who is from England. When he visits Nigeria as a journalist he falls in love with the country. He learns to speak the Igbo language and is so fascinated by their culture that he decides to write a book about Biafra.

The story revolves around these five characters, Ugwu, Odenigbo, Olanna, Kaniene, and Richard, and how their lives are affected due to the civil war. It discusses the characters on a deeply personal level and at the same time establishes the struggles of violence, politics, and war. Each of the characters evolves throughout the book after we get acquainted with them in the initial chapters. From vulnerability, poverty, and fear to accepting change, and being hopeful.

Half of a Yellow Sun is a story that paints a very realistic image of the Biafran civil war. As a reader I got pulled into the culture, language, and history of Biafra. It highlights topics like postcolonial traditions, racism, and different ethnicities. Amongst all of this, love is also a prominent theme that remains in the book right till the end, even though it gets a little complicated and twisted due to the complexities of the characters and situations. 

It is a remarkable book that I highly recommend you to read if you are in the mood for a love story in a war background. 

Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest by Martin Boško 

#Book Review
Poetry | Love | Emotions | Mythology

Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest is a collection of admirably written poems by Martin Boško. It takes you on a journey inspired by Greek mythology while also tugging on the heartstrings with feelings of love, betrayal, and longing.

This book is a collection of poems assembled by the author through one calendar year. The use of imagery, powerful expressions, and moving poems give us an insight into the inner workings of the poet’s mind. The author has shared some of his most intimate moments, emotions, and intentions that make each of his poems memorable. The rhyming nature of the poems was an absolute delight to read and made me want to keep going on and on for more.

When sadness comes as a raging river
I reach into my trusty quiver
To pull out the Arrow made of honey
And heal the wounds that are fresh and bloody.

– Martin Boško

The book has four sections as mentioned in the title: Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest. Even though my knowledge of Greek mythology is quite basic, I still found the poems hard-hitting and extremely pleasing to read. The poems on love capture the heart and soul of the feeling of being in love. As I progressed further, I could not help but feel like I was experiencing heartbreak along with the poet through his poetry. There were many moments where I empathized with the poet and wished for a turnaround in his life. Overall, I highly recommend Myths, Doves, Tears, and the Rest for all those poetry lovers who wish to be taken on a journey of imagination and emotions.

Also, read my review on Reedsy.

Eat Your Rice Cakes by Margaret Weiss

#BookReview
Self-help | Celiac Disease | Acceptance

A great self-help book for people suffering from celiac disease in which the author also reaffirms the need for compassion and care.

Eat Your Rice Cakes is a self-help book for people suffering from celiac disease. Margaret Weiss takes us through her journey of diagnosis, struggles of living with the disease, and finally acceptance of her condition. This book is a great resource for other patients who have their own struggles with celiac’s and also for readers who are curious about the disease.

The author takes us through her early life where the celiac disease diagnosis turns her world upside down. She narrates the tale of where she was first diagnosed and how that led to the title of this book. Margaret Weiss also takes us through the shock and horror of losing all her comfort foods. Some anecdotes from the book highlight her plight as she realizes cakes, bread, pastries, and even Oreo cookies are permanently off her dinner table.

The other aspect she talks about is the societal reaction to her condition. In the times when she was diagnosed there was very little public awareness about the disease. She was often mocked by friends and the waiters at restaurants would give her quizzical looks as she explained her conditions. In that regard, modern times are a much better place due to the abundance of gluten-free products in grocery stores.

Margaret’s journey then leads her to become a registered dietitian, diabetes care, education specialist, counselor, and author. She takes to the practice to help others overcome this disease. Eat Your Rice Cakes is a book that aims to help patients deal with the different stages of grief and take a positive course towards change, transition and adherence. As a fellow patient with around twenty-five years since her diagnosis, she understands not only the physical limitations but also the emotional stress of living with celiac.

All in all, Eat Your Rice Cakes is a great resource for anyone suffering from celiac or has a loved one afflicted by this condition. Readers who are curious about the gluten-free items they spot in the grocery store can also learn a lot from this book and be more accepting of this condition.

Also, find my review on Reedsy.

My Name is Wilma by Kirsten Bett

#Book Review
Fiction | Cats | Adventures |

My Name is Wilma is a quirky book that’ll take you on a journey of exploration of the world through the eyes of a cat. If you’re a cat lover, then cozy up and enjoy the ride.

Wilma, the cat’s story begins on the Dutch tulip fields where her life was rough and rugged. It was only after she meets her humans, Kirsten and Willem, does she realize how wonderfully sheltered a cat’s life can be. The story is narrated from Wilma’s point of view. In Kirsten’s house, Wilma meets Sailor, Kapitein, Prince, and many other cats throughout the book. While Wilma has learned many lessons about surviving in the outside world, she relies on Kapitein to be her guide, mentor, and friend for wise pieces of advice. Kapitein helps Wilma get comfortable in her new home and also gives life lessons on how to deal with difficult situations.

While Sailor and Wilma are tolerant of each other, they never become extremely close and Wilma instead seeks adventures outside. Soon, they have to make a difficult journey from the Netherlands to New Zealand. This part of the story is invigorating and described in remarkable detail where we get to experience what cats go through during a long overseas flight. The fear, uncertainty, confusion, and finally relief are something we go through together with Wilma while reading the book. The adventures continue one after the other until Wilma reaches her forever home.

Also, find my review on Reedsy.

Wanderer by Court Young

#BookReview
Poetry|Love|Heartbreak|Hope

Wanderer is a poetry book which discusses the author’s journey of falling in love, heartbreak, pain, hope, and finding forever love. 

In this poetry book, the author Court Young shares the two most important phases of her life. The first part is about the Wolf and the second part is about the Eagle/Lion. The first part is about getting attracted to the Wolf and falling hard in love. It’s about love, lust, heartbreak, and the pain that follows.

The poems express the vulnerability, anger, confusion, and frustration that she feels towards the Wolf. Her anger is also towards herself because she had given him the power to hurt her. She goes through this emotional journey with questions of self-doubt and self-worth. Some of her poetry is also about the seasons which reflect her state of mind. This poetry book progresses slowly towards hope when she finds her Eagle/Lion. The haunting memories of her past are soon forgotten after she finds her soulmate. She realizes what she has been missing out on and understands love is all about respecting one another and making each other feel beautiful about themselves.

Most of the poems in the Wanderer are about love, desire, and pain. It’s about the turbulent times in the author’s life and how she learns to overcome these challenges. The poems are not super impressive; they felt more like the experiences of a teenager. It was also a little confusing because the author talks about the Wolf and the Eagle in the Author’s Note, but in the second part, she addresses her forever love as the Lion. The poems were not thought-provoking and lacked imagination and rhythm. However, her sweet short poems are easy to read and are great for young adults. Through her poems, she tries to inspire all those people experiencing heartbreak to get back up as there is always light at the end of the tunnel. 

Midnight Light by Brian Paglinco

#BookReview
Poetry|Love|Death|

Midnight Light romanticizes the concept of death, nature, love, and redemption making it a perfect pick for the season of Halloween!

The ideas presented in the book flirt with burial, guardian statues, left behind loved ones, and astronomical figures where the real ones include stars, lights, and night, and the unreal figures are the devil, god, and angels. A background theme that recurs in some poems deals with drugs and their intoxicating effects and how some lives are ended too early because of addiction. The combination of the words on the page along with the photographs that accompany them presents a vivid picture that guides you along a path to find your own understanding of each poem. 

The poems are written artistically and without hesitation about certain themes that are difficult to discuss. It is easy to fall into a world of imagination as you picturise each of these poems while reading them. While the poems are not very simple, they aren’t complex either, which leaves you longing for one more poem before you call it a night. 

This poetry book is a combined passionate labor of love by two friends Michael Pace and Brian Paglinco who share over thirty years of friendship. Michael weaves the rich and rhythmic poems through his writing and Brian has provided captivating photographs that frame the theme of this book which is mainly about love, death, and redemption. I lost track of time, at times, engrossed in the fascinating pictures and uniquely interesting poems which I’m certain many readers too will happen to experience while reading the Midnight Light. 

Also find my review on Reedsy.

Year in a Blink

#ShortStory

It’s eight o’clock in the morning and I get a notification that my order is ready for pick up. I’m already here, wearing a lavender-colored floral dress and an extra smile as I stand outside admiring my favorite place. I take a deep breath, push open the heavy oak doors, and re-enter The Willowvilla. The familiar aroma of freshly brewed tea and baked food makes me feel like I’m home once again.


I used to be a regular here but it has been almost a year since I visited this place, my place! I still remember the day on which I accidentally found Willowvilla eight years ago. I was feeling low and was walking around aimlessly without really thinking about where I was headed when I found a passage into a secret garden. I hadn’t noticed the hidden driveway before or the garden beside it. I was hesitant to enter at first but I decided to go in anyway.

I could hear busy murmurs at a distance, the pace of my steps increased. I curiously walked towards the noise and from behind the trees emerged this inconspicuous cafe. I don’t know what had gotten into me, I have never since been so brave — I walked straight in without thinking. Quite irregular for one as introverted as me.

I was immediately struck by its warmth and coziness; it felt almost magical. The enticing aroma of tea leaves, coffee beans, bread, and butter dragged me in. The wooden benches, wooden tables, and couches in the middle of the room encouraged open seating. Families shared benches with strangers in perfect harmony. Couples continued their love-smitten small talk without fear of eavesdroppers as another group of friends cackled loudly beside them.

I was so fascinated by this place that I ended up spending most of my free time at the cafe. For some, Willowvilla might be just another cafe, but to me, it felt like I had discovered a strangely unique place. The thing is I like blending in without attracting too much attention to myself and this homely place seemed perfect to me. I completed college assignments while munching on blueberry scones, read books late in the evening by the window, and worked on office presentations while drinking espresso shots to keep myself awake. I even made new friends here, it always started with a smile and the conversations just seemed to flow. It was easy to find like-minded people here.


Suddenly, my reverie breaks, and I find myself standing in front of a girl. Her eyes are smiling at me but this time everything feels different. She is wearing a mask and there’s a glass partition between us. I look around and my Willovilla looks rather dull and devoid of life. My heart drops and I feel as empty as the place. I quickly come back to my senses and say,

“I have an order for pick-up, my name’s Nina.”

“Sure, let me grab that for you. I will be right back!”, she replied.

Everything has changed, there are no benches, no couches, and no bar stools. This time, right at the front are sanitizers, brown paper bags, and take away orders which occupy most of the space. Posters on the walls read, “COVID-19 Safety measures: Please wear a mask for your safety and ours!”

There are only a handful of people in the cafe who are jumping between serving customers and preparing orders. The bakers are busily working in the kitchen wearing masks and gloves. I watch them work while waiting and a realization suddenly dawns upon me. They do not appear sad or overworked. In fact, they look like they are enjoying themselves, despite the added safety precautions. There are in-jokes between the bakers and the serving staff. My smile slowly returns. Yes, the place looks different but the hint of magic remains in the air.

We’re all trying to hold on to those good times even if things don’t feel the same anymore. So what, if I cannot spend time in the cafe I am grateful and relieved that it reopened after almost a year and did not shut down permanently. This time when I look around, I notice that the place is trying its best to still look inviting and beautiful. The space is filled with flower baskets and goodie bags. The bakers continue to dole out hand-crafted pastries and scrumptious cookies that look nothing less than pieces of art.

I walk out of Willowvilla with my parcel in hand feeling warm and fuzzy. In the end, it’s all about evoking emotions that help in building connections. This pandemic has taught me to support one another, to build a sense of community, to hold on, and to be patient. Things may or may not go back to how they were but together we can always make it better. I guess that’s how life is supposed to go.

Tell me a childhood story

#ShortStory

The other day at a story writing club somebody asked me this question, “Think of a weird, uncomfortable memory from your childhood. If it’s some kind of experience, make it sound fun.” I didn’t have to think for too long because this one in particular is the strongest memory that I have from my school days and this is the story that I told them:

I waited in line to use the restroom at school. I was always alone in school but I would act super cool and confident. Not that I chose to be alone, but I don’t know I never had any close friends in school. Now that I think about it, it’s pretty strange. None of the other girls came alone to the restroom, they would always bring along a friend or a group of friends. Like it was some kind of a fun group activity to go to the restroom.

For me the only reason was because I had to use it, given a chance I would never want to use the toilet in school. But I started looking at it differently. I started using that time to find peace. It became more like my happy place where nobody could see me. I would breathe out a sigh of relief, relieved to be away from all the noisy and wannabe kids. Here it was only me and my toilet seat.

I heard a lot of gossip and scandalous stories while doing my business inside. The girls would rush inside giggling and start sharing who was dating whom, who kissed the most popular guy in high school, or who found a secret love note hidden in their classwork. Well it was school, what else can you expect from girls at that age? Sometimes girls would enter crying and discuss subjects in which they failed, the remarks written by the teachers, or whose parents were treating their kids poorly.

You know the kind of things, none of the girls would ever tell me but I was a kid too. I liked stories. I spent all my childhood reading stories, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Harry Potter, Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Chicken Soup, Tinkle, Archies. I would even gobble up my English text books before the school year started. But I wanted to know what real people talk about, I wanted to listen to some stories for a change, silly that it had to be this way with my bare bum on the throne. Once the restroom was empty, I would come out feeling accomplished, stretch like a cat, apply lip gloss and walk back to the class like I know-it-all, flipping my pony-tail in style.


Thank you for reading my fictional short story. If you have a story too, then use the below line as a writing prompt and share the story with us. “Think of a weird, uncomfortable memory from your childhood. If it’s some kind of experience, make it sound fun.

A Lost Friend

#Short story

When I saw her for the first time, it felt like I had never seen anyone who looked so angelic. I stayed away from her, I thought pretty girls like her would not want to talk to me. We sat on the same bench in class but we never spoke to each other. Sometimes, when the lecturer dictated notes I would peek into her notebook, she would push her book towards me and smile. Even her tiniest gesture of kindness would touch my heart.

One day at a friend’s place we ended up being alone in the corner of a room. That was the first time she spoke to me and when she did, I was surprised by the speed at which she spoke. I don’t remember the conversation, all I remember is that she spoke really fast. If I had to describe her looks, then umm..she has innocent honey brown eyes, super chubby cheeks, clear soft skin, long black hair, and a sweet naughty smile. She is a beautiful girl, my girl!

We got close after the bike accident. She had fallen off the bike while riding so our group of friends had rushed to the hospital. I ran straight towards her because she was crying the loudest. She was not injured, she was just scared, really scared, and she asked me to stay by her side. Instead of feeling sorry, I found the whole situation amusing. But, it was also the first time I felt protective about her. I wanted to take care of her and keep her safe. I did not see her in college after the accident for a week. And then she was back! Her beaming smile made me feel warm and happy. I sat next to her and that’s how our friendship began. We were inseparable.

She used to talk a lot and as I mentioned earlier she talked really fast. I couldn’t help but be fascinated by her. Every day I would look forward to seeing her. The level of comfort between us was unlike anything that I had with my other friends. We understood each other, cared for each other, and had fun like no one else. We could laugh for hours, we were silly, and we loved spending time together.

I remember she would always wait for me outside the college gate. I was always a few minutes late, but she would wait for me without ever complaining, and then we would run in together. When she missed her bus, it was my turn to wait for her. I would watch her walk hurriedly towards me, fixing her flying messy hair, holding onto her college bag clumsily, and fixing her clothes angrily. She always used to be annoyed, like she hated the world, but then she would end up laughing when she finally reached me. All her worries would fade away and we would get back to cracking silly jokes. Problems in life never got serious when we had each other.

After classes, we would spend a few extra hours hanging out in college and I would take the longest route so I could walk halfway with her. Sometimes I would even go all the way to her bus stop and wait with her until her bus arrived because I lived close to the college. Sometimes we would be lost so deep in conversations that she would deliberately miss her bus so we could talk a little while longer. After reaching home, we would send each other text messages and chat until late night. Friendship with her felt more like a relationship. I am not sure what we had, it was certainly more than love. I was scared that someday I would lose her, we had gotten too emotionally attached.

When college ended, we slowly started drifting apart. She got busy looking for jobs and I got busy doing my new job. We would meet once a week, soon it became once a month, and then once in six months. We even stopped talking to each other on the phone. I tried many times to maintain the friendship but she failed to reciprocate. It was difficult for me to understand the change in her nature. There was a period of time when I was angry with her, “How could she forget me so easily?” On days when I needed my friend, she wasn’t there and that would make me sad. I waited for her, with a hope that things will go back to being how they used to be before.

Soon, I fell in love with a guy, who is now my husband. She got married and moved to another country. We completely stopped talking, we had forgotten how to be there for each other. There was one time when our paths accidentally crossed, she was with her two kids. She spoke to me briefly and I realized she was nothing like the person that I knew before and our relationship will never be the same. I lost my dearest friend and losing a best friend is worse than a breakup.

I often think about her, wonder where she is, and how she is doing. I miss her, I miss laughing with her. But over the years I’ve realized that I need to be thankful for the time that I got to spend with her, people move on and I should learn to accept that. By trying to rekindle the relationship I might lose all the sweet memories that I have been holding onto. So, I guess it’s better this way.


Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com