Eyes Like Mine
by Sheena Kamal
I really wanted to like this book and worked hard to get to know the main character, Nora. I really like 'bad' characters and thought this one would be up my street.
Unfortunately, whilst I got to like Nora, the story and the writing style didn't work for me. I have to say, I found Nora's mixture of alcoholism and general aggressiveness a bit too much and her abuse of another character in the book (Bradzuca), really turned my stomach.
The final scenes were, frankly, unbelievable, so, sorry, this wasn't for me.
What I did find impressive was the originality of the style and the originality of the main character and I have to congratulate the author for that.
(I received a copy of this book from NetGalley)
#6 Discover Ten New Authors of Colour
Either erotica is your thing or it isn’t, and, well, sometimes it is mine.
Here’s a book that’s a mixture of erotica, African folklore and fantasy.
Give yourself a treat and try this heady, powerful novella.
Abiku: A Battle of Gods by Elizabeth Salawu
She was called an Abiku, an evil spirit sent to this world to lure men to their doom
Dayo is a bi-racial twenty-something year old with a German mom and a Nigerian dad. She has a semi bougie lifestyle, always jetting across the pond between Africa and Europe.
She starts dating her father's driver in secret after seducing him.
On her return from her cousin's twenty-first birthday, she tries gbana (crack) for the first time. She finds herself in an alternate realm and thinks she's hallucinating from using gbana. She doesn't take anything that happens there seriously as she thinks she's having a vivid dream. That is, until she couldn't wake up from getting married to a 'man' she met in that realm...
Ann Girdharry’s View
A highly original story that blends eroticism, Nigerian folklore and a young woman's dual life. I’ve never come across anything similar.
Dayo comes from a rich family and has a privileged lifestyle. Once free from her parents' supervision, she seduces her father's chauffeur and they start a hot, steamy affair.
Things start becoming strange when sex and drugs seemingly push Dayo into another realm. It's a mythic realm in which she begins an affair with a man who appears to be a god.
Is she hallucinating? Has she gone mad? What’s real and what isn’t real?
As the story spins out, Dayo has some tough choices to make, but she’s a tough young woman, so don’t think the odds are all stacked against her.
This book touches on notions of African beauty, and portrays a different view of attractiveness.
The erotic scenes are well written and the first half of the book is particularly powerful.
Photoshot of Elizabeth Salawu
Five Things You Didn’t Know about Elizabeth Salawu
1.I record my podcase (The Segilola Salami Show) in my bedroom whilst wearing my PJ.
2. I love jollof rice and fried plantain (Nigerian jollof is the best).
3. The only place I can imagine spending 365 days in at a stretch is London.
4. Every time I re-read Abiku: A Battle of Gods, I say to myself, “Wow, did you actually write that?”
5. Whilst pregnant, I decided I was only going to breastfeed my daughter for one month but somehow I ended up doing it for two years eheheheh
Thanks for letting me review your book and for talking to us today, Segilola (Elizabeth Salawu). You can check out more about Segilola here
I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
This is essentially a story about 9/11, its aftermath and the on-going war against terrorism. The story is based in the USA, though there is plenty of travel to countries such as Afghanistan, Turkey, Greece and Libya. We follow the lives of two men.
The first is Pilgrim, who is a secret agent for a division of the American secret service few have heard of. He’s a master of his craft and an expert in the investigation of crime scenes. The second man we follow is the Saracen.
The book is made of four parts and pretty much the first three parts are background and set-up to the main story which arrives in part four.
In the first three parts, we learn about Pilgrim – his childhood, his foster parents, his life as an agent and his rise to fame amongst the ranks of agents, his doubts and fatigue at the relentless pace of his job. We learn about Saracen – his childhood and his hatred of the Saudi royal family and of America, his recruitment and years spent fighting in Afghanistan against the Russians, his one-man, demonic plot against the US homeland and his determination to see this succeed. There are some horrific scenes of torture and violence that the reader witnesses.
Some people might find the hundreds of pages of backstory and detail difficult to get through.
I liked finding out about these two men and the forces which shaped them. They are both intensely human and we get to know their thoughts and see inside their minds. It’s not always comfortable, but it was always interesting, maybe even riveting.
Part four is where the story really kicks off and all the many threads of the previous three sections come into play. People that Pilgrim and the Saracen have met have an influence on the final acts in the book as the tension mounts. Memories and tiny incidents which we know about (but Pilgrim and Saracen may have dismissed) take their place to try to tip the hand of fate one way or the other. This was well done. I always admire an author who gives attention to detail and Hayes is good at this.
Given that the big overview of the story is 9/11, its aftermath and the war against terrorism in the USA – of course, the story has a main path to follow. Of course, Pilgrim is the hero. At the end, he’s practically a super-man and close to death, he speaks to the President of the United States and is called ‘a hero’. We also get to know a real hero of 9/11 in the character of Ben Bradley. Ben is a NYPD cop who befriends Pilgrim (and inspires him) and I enjoyed reading about Ben and his wife.
Xenophobia, racism and constant negative commentary
My main problem with this book was the constant racism/xenophobia/negativity about numerous cultures and people of the world. All except the Americans. (Actually, in one incident an Australian UN unit also gets some praise, but, oh yes, Hayes is from Australia isn’t he?)
Whether it’s the Turkish people, the Greeks, the Afghans, the Persian empire, the Syrians, the Libyans – you name it and Pilgrim has some negative or snide or suspect comments to make.
Often these are tiny and conversational and part of his internal dialogue as he assesses situations and intelligence assignments. They could go unnoticed, I suppose, because they are not at all the main meat of the book. Rather, they are its constant and unpleasant undercurrent.
At first, I clocked Pilgrim’s little asides and ignored them. But as they added up, it was like the dripping of a tap – Pilgrim just couldn’t resist drawing us into his xenophobic world. In the end, after some six hundred pages of it, I’m sorry to say I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Of all the books I’ve read in the last few years, I’ve not come across this problem before.
I understand that many won’t share this opinion and I want to be clear that I’m not talking about the big story of Pilgrim versus Saracen. I’m talking about the internal values and dialogue of Pilgrim, for instance when he walks into a Turkish village and assesses his surroundings, or arrives at a crime scene and thinks something about the personnel working the case. What a shame.
It totally spoiled what could have been an excellent book.
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