#1M1B Challenge: February Review

1M1B Club

Hello everyone! This is me hoping you finished a book even though this month was pretty short. On the bright side, we got 29 days instead of the usual 28 days so, small victory. This month I read Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. I picked this book because I thought the title…

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Hello everyone! This is me hoping you finished a book even though this month was pretty short. On the bright side, we got 29 days instead of the usual 28 days so, small victory.

This month I read Say You’re One of Them by Uwem Akpan. I picked this book because I thought the title a little interesting. A few friends have also read it and say it is a good enough book so I thought, “Why not?”

Say You’re One of Them is a collection of 4 short stories all from the perspectives of young people in violent, dysfunctional, far-from ideal life situations. The first story, An Ex-Mas Feast, tells the story of 8-year old Jigana whose family in extreme poverty. His 12-year old sister was forced into prostitution because, poverty, and was able to provide for Jigana to go to school. Jigana is deeply affected by this and chooses to run away with the hope that his sister will leave her line of work.

The second story, “Fattening for Gabon” is about Kotchikpa and Yewa who live with their uncle Fofo Kpee after their parents contracted AIDS and became very sickly. Fofo Kpee made a deal with Big Guy to sell his niece and nephew into slavery but attempts to run away with them when guilt threatens to consume him. He doesn’t get very far and is murdered after his attempt to escape. Kotchikpa and Yewa are then imprisoned in their own home in preparation for their trip to Gabon but Kotchikpa manages to escape

“What Language is That” is the shortest of the five stories. It’s about two little girls growing up in Ethiopia. Both from two different religious backgrounds (Christian and Muslim), one day the best friends were no longer allowed to play together because of their religious differences.

“Luxurious Hearses” is the only story I like in the entire book. The protagonist, Jubril, is forced to leave Northern Nigeria for Southern Nigeria during the civil war. The only way out is a luxurious bus and Jubril has to keep his identity as a Northerner hidden to save his skin in a bus full of Southerners. Jubril (a staunch muslim) somehow manages to get through being in close proximity with so many women, he is bullied into giving up his seat by a “Chief”, avoids the television as much as possible all the while hiding his accent and his stump of a left hand. Jubril unknowingly blows his cover when an image of a burning mosque appears on the TV screen he managed to avoid for so long. Jubril weeps and makes to wipe his face with his stump. He’s taken out of the bus and murdered.

“My Parents’ Bedroom” is about a 9 nine year old during the Rwandan genocide. Her mother leaves her one-year old brother in her care while she is away. That night a mob led by her uncle shows up at their house in search of her father and rapes the girl. The following night the mob returns and forces Papa to kill Maman because she is Tutsi. He does this then leaves the house without his children. The little girl leaves the house as well, not knowing where to go. The story ends with her house in flames and her knowing all the Tutsi people her parents had tried to keep safe in the attic had been killed.

One major theme in all five stories is the senselessness of hate and violence, crimes against children (and humanity in general). But in trying to develop some of the stories, the author got me plenty confused with language in “Ex-mas Feast” and “Fattening for Gabon”. The last two stories were a lot easier to read.

I found this book very tedious to read. It took a long while for the stories to build up and take shape (except for “What Language is That?” which was very brief) and had me wondering, “When is this book finishing?”

The author handled serious themes in the book but lost me early with long, tedious, unnecessary dialogue and details. When it comes to fiction, I’m all for: if it helps us understand your characters better then throw it in. If not, please keep the ornamental paragraphs.

Was the author successful in carrying out the overall purposes of the book? The entire book was a tedious journey.  Some people would say the author had game but none I was interested in

Would you recommend this book to others? Not at all.

Rating: 2/5

My recommendations for this month are:

  • Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth – Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares (because, start-up life)
  • We Should All Be Feminists – Chimamanda Adichie (because, short and very necessary read)
  • I Laugh At These Skinny Girls – Tolu Akinyemi (because, not every time story sometimes poetry)

Dont forget you only have to read one book.

Before we get to your reviews I’m glad to announce  that we have another partner onboard. The awesome people at Africareeds.com have decided to give all you book lovers 10% discount on any purchase made on their site. All you have to do is use this promo code when checking out: NAKEDCONVOS10. So you see, now you have absolutely no excuse.

Time to hear from you:

What book did you read?

Summarise

Evaluate and critique the book

Wrap up with the strengths and weaknesses and mention if you would recommend the book to other people

Give a numerical score/rating.

Remember, I will be picking out the best two reviews to receive prizes from Konga.com.

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Do you love to READ and WRITE too? Then submit a qualification entry for THE WRITER competition and win big. READ here for details.

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Responses

  1. Kimhottie
    I am so happy I stumbled on this 1M1B challenge. It would definitely help me read more.

    I read “Say You’re On of Them” in 2014 and while I did like the work entirely, some stories resonated more with me than others. The one about the boy from the Northern part of Nigeria made me the most sad. A colleague of mine is reading it now and I can’t wait to see what she thinks of it.

    Even though I didn’t know 1M1B was a thing, I read “Fine Boys” by Eghosa Imasuen in February (*pops collar*). Quite a good read. It speaks on cultism in Uniben and how even good kids who didn’t plan to become cultists either had to so as not to be preyed upon because they were “Ju-men” or because it was simply the hip thing to do. The title of the book itself, “Fine Boys” is a moniker for cultists (i fail to see how they correlate). I found it very relatable for a girl who schooled in a Nigerian University where cultism was rife and may have been wooed by one or two. The end was sad and I was actually breathing heavily as my brain started piecing together the tragedy that was waiting for me on the next page.

    The strength for me was the use of Nigerian pidgin. Quite realistic as the author and his family and friends grew up in Warri, Nigeria. The first few pages were not exactly a page turner but then again, most of the good books aren’t.

    I’m looking to buy some books off Jumia and i’ll be here to give a review at the end of March. Shalom 🙂

      1. Kimhottie
        Oh my bad. Still new to this review thing.

        Hmm. I think a 4/5 is accurate enough. Cos it was a good book. When Africareeds delivers my books, i just may read The Fisherman (abi the Fishermen idk) first. It came highly recommended.

        1. Jade
          I have the fishermen and it is a great read, you can borrow mine if you’re in Abuja and please pray tell where will i get the Fine boys book from? I’ve decided to focus on African literature for now.

          As far as reviews go, i will give the fishermen 4/5. it will make you laugh and it will make you cry, you will be in anguish and you will relate with the characters, my grouse is that it ended so abruptly and left me feeling empty.

          1. Ibukun Post author
            You can get Fine Boys on Africareeds. Thanks for leaving a link, Kim!
            What are you reading this month, Jade?
    1. Ibukun Post author
      Lmao, Ibukun!

      I didn’t finish reading my book early enough as well. Was already thinking of how someone would call me out for defaulting here.

      How do you like the book so far?

  2. Andrea
    I read Breaking night by Liz Murray this February.

    ‘It’s a story about a young lady, who was born to drug addicts and cared for herself from a young age, she watched her parents do drugs everyday and ate from trash cans or by shoplifting. At 9, she got a job pumping gas and bagging groceries for tips, most of which was stolen by either of her parents to buy more drugs. She got into school, but without supervision or support, she frequently skipped school and eventually dropped out. At 15, she became homeless, slept in subways or camped in friends’ houses, it was during this period that her mother died of AIDS, and she endured constant abuse from her drug addict boyfriend. After her mom’s death, she became motivated to go back to school, she completed high school with stellar grades while homeless and got an opportunity to apply for the New York Times scholarship, which she won. She applied to colleges and got accepted into Harvard’.

    One of the highlights of the book, probably the only part that made me laugh was at her scholarship interview, the question was to describe what obstacles you have had to overcome in life. Of course, she had more than enough to write and talk about, but at the end of the interview, she was asked if she had any other thing to say and she said ‘well I really need this scholarship, I really really need it’. I don’t know if that’s what made her get it but she had a compelling story, I would sponsor her education too if I were part of the board who listened to her story.

    I think the strength of this book is that it will empower any reader to think beyond current circumstances, think differently about life, be thankful for what you have even if you think you don’t have too much and strive to make the best of every opportunity.

    However, it was too long a read, the story could have been told in half the pages it has, it feels ridiculously drawn out. Plus after reading the grueling details of how disgusting their apartment was, how she wore torn clothes to school everyday, how she and her sister ate toothpaste when there was no food for days, you become desperate for something new like – when will she eat good food, when will she get into a home, when will she go to school? It becomes really painful to continue reading at some point.

    I will definitely recommend to other people. I gave it 5/5 on goodreads.com, now that I think about it, I will probably give it a 4/5. I am reading Lynn Austin’s ‘Until we reach home’ this month, I have to return it on the 21st so I should be done with reading by then if I don’t renew it for extension, lol.

      1. Ibukun Post author
        Ahaha! You think Andrea’s review is long. You need to see reviews from last month. I admit, I added some books to my reading list because of how elaborate and detailed the reviews were.

        What did you read in February?

    1. Ibukun Post author
      Hey Andrea!

      Thank you for joining us. You’re nice for still giving a book that was dragging 5 or 4 stars. I would’ve gone to 3 stars, regardless hehe. Off to read more reviews of the book you just read

      Would love to read your review of ‘Until We Reach Home’ next month.

      1. Andrea
        Haha, I think it’s because I still enjoyed the book regardless. But I was just in between awww and how dare you give me 800 pages of sadness and like 40 pages of happily ever after when I finished reading.lool
  3. Makachuks
    I read ; ‘ No More Mr Nice Guy; A proven plan for getting what you want in love, sex and life.

    * Caveat, this book is not for everyone, but it for most people.
    I have lately got interested in questioning everything I learned as a child,
    and I find psychology is one of the best places to find answers.

    * Robert Glover (the author) , helps men (and women) answer the question;
    of attaching self worth to material possessions.
    Pleasing others (and maybe displeasing yourself) and hoping for a favourable outcome.
    Playing nice to get sexual favours;
    Discovering our potential and passion in life (in a practical sense not new-agey).

    Recommend: 4.5/5.
    some free pdf copies online; or quite cheap on amazon.

  4. Mama Okija
    I read Yellow-Yellow by Kaine Agary. The book is a coming of age story. It tells the story of a young beautiful girl born to an Ijaw mother and a Spanish father she never met. She plots to escape the poverty in her village to a much better life in the city. She also yearns for her father’s affection and thus finds succor in the arms of older men who take advantage of her innocence and desperation to feel loved and wanted. In the end, she gets pregnant and isn’t even sure who the father is. She gets an abortion and I was just glad she didn’t die as she got a second chance to lead a more responsible life.
    I found her (the main character) to be very naive and rather wayward but this is very normal for young girls her age except for a few responsible ones.
    It is a short book of less than 200 pages and I liked that the author didn’t beat around the bush with unnecessary narratives.

    LESSON LEARNT: despite the mistakes we make as young ladies, it is never too late to take charge of our lives as no one is perfect and sinless.

    Rating: 4/5. Highly recommended especially for teenage girls in their coming of age stage.

  5. Dare
    Still reading Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey..Thanks to Ibukun for sharing her review on this book…February has been somehow busy for me and this book is not a book you read like a novel…I think ibukun’s review on this book is topnotch.. thenakedconvos.com/1m1b-challenge-january-review/ ..Thats the link incase you missed january’s review.
    Ibukun..I’m yet to get the mail on how to claim my prize on konga..Thank you.
  6. Katniss
    I read The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimmamanda Adichie. I assumed I had read all her works and only picked the book out of boredom on a particular day. Its a collection of 12 short stories about Nigerians at different levels/stages of life. When I started reading the first story, I rolled my eyes because it was another story about academics in Nsukka. Again. I think there is a second one in the book sef . Even though the story lines and characters are completely different, I don’t like to feel like its dejavu when I’m reading an author’s work(same problem I started having with Grisham).
    My favorite story was The Arrangers of Marriage. It was about a young graduate who is married off through ‘arrangee-ism’ to a Nigerian born doctor living in the US. It was sad and sometimes funny and disgusting. Generally a good story. I also like the way the story was written, with numerous references to the title e.g “…another thing the arrangers of marriage failed to mention-mouths that told the story of sleep, that felt clammy like old chewing gum..” This was the author trying to convey the main character’s thoughts after her first night with her Americanah husband who thought huffing and puffing was a synonym for lovemaking.
    Tomorrow is too Far is about a sibling rivalry flamed by ?favoritism to one child, complicated by a semi-incestuous pseudo-relationship and leading to tragedy for an entire family. The story is weird sha. Sorta.
    The last story was unexpected because I’ve never known Chimmamanda to do rural-set stories. It was set in the pre-colonial times in eastern Nigeria. I loved the beginning but the end felt rushed like she couldn’t wait to wrap things up.
    It was a good read because Adichie. Some stories were nicer than others and I’ll recommend it but maybe not to first time readers who don’t know what she can do.
    3.5/5
    I’m reading Are We the Turning Point Generation by Chude Jideonwo and will look out for Disappointment with God by Yancey. I’ve decided to fulfill one of my 2015 resolutions of reading more non-fiction than I usually do(zero)
    PS_Ibk I’m still waiting for my prize from last month 🙂
    1. Dare
      Katniss…I envy how you read african writers novels,I think the last time I read something like that was in high school and I find it difficult to relate with ibukuns review on africa novels.
      I think I need to start but my fear is I hope my first after a long time wont be a disappointment.
    2. Ibukun Post author
      Sorry for the delay in getting your prize to you, Kat! Mailed them again so they should contact you as soon as possible.
      Great review as always
  7. The Alchemist
    I read “Sandman: Overture” by Neil Gaiman this month. Something I have been looking forward to doing for almost 15 years since I read the first set of Sandman graphic novels.

    To summarize the story, Dream – one of the Endless – an embodiment of the power of dreams and imagination, did not his duty by killing a mad star a long time ago and now the mad star is infecting other stars with its madness. This triggers a war in the universe and a vortex of destruction. Dream summons all the versions of himself across the universe to discuss the situation and then goes on a journey to a city where stars live in order to try to correct his mistake. Journeying with him are an orphan alien girl named Hope and another version of himself in the form of a cat. In the end, he must use the power of a shared dream and risk his life in order to make the universe whole again.

    I know that probably doesn’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t read the original Sandman comics but trust me, this is a glorious story and the art is gorgeous. Have you ever seen a city where stars live? Like actual stars but made flesh?

    In evaluating the story, its impossible not to compare it to he original Sandman, which is considered one of the finest graphic novels ever made. Sandman: Overture is the prelude to the entire Sandman saga. It explains the beginning of that series very very well and gives wonderful new concepts to it. Like most Sandman stories, lots of concepts and ideas are thrown around, and the power of dreams proves to be pretty powerful. I am pretty sure that the mad star infecting the universe and making go to war with itself is a metaphor for cancer and that the inevitability of death that pervades the whole thing speaks to that theme. That the mistakes we make when we are young can cause us pain/disease later on and that only through great effort and sacrifice can we find redemption.

    The book has so many strengths, I can see why it took two years for this series to be completed. The writing by Gaiman is beautiful, poetic and appropriate for describing events as grand and high-concept as this. Its pure word-art. The graphic art by John Williams is unbelievable and looks even better than anything in the original Sandman art. So much detail on every page. I especially loved the artwork when the various aspects of Dream convene to discuss the state of the universe. The only weakness here is that people who haven’t read the original graphic novels will probably be lost if they read it as it both looks at story elements from the beginning and the end of the original Sandman series.

    I particularly love everything Sandman-related. I’ve even written Sandman fan fiction before (which you can read for free here > https://wtalabi.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/false-lives.pdf) and I was very glad and surprised to see some ideas I explored in my own fan-fiction 4 years ago were explored by the original creator, Gaiman, here too.

    So of course I recommend it. In fact I recommend you get the entire original Sandman series, the spin-offs and even my own fan-fiction for a bit more of a Nigerian twist on the Sandman world.

    I give this a solid 4.5/5.

    1. Ibukun Post author
      Excellent review if I ever saw one, Wole!
      I find sci-fi a tad tedious to read (only thing I’ve read sci-fi-ish in recent times is An Ocean At The End of The Lane by Gaiman) but I’m definitely checking out your Sandman fan fiction now.
      1. The Alchemist
        Well of course we all have our preferences and I’m well aware Sci-fi/Fantasy (SFF) isn’t for everyone. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane is an amazing book by the way. Still SFF is more or less exclusively all I read so you’ll be seeing a lot of reviews for that. Please endure me.
  8. Princewill
    Hello TNC, I still think the 1M1B challenge is a great idea, so thumbs up once again.
    This month I read a book by Dr. Kevin Leman “The Real You”
    In his book,” The Real You” he opens up to the readers into discovering the reasons why they act the way they do. He uses the first two parts of the book to explain the four human temperaments, how they play an important role in shaping a good relationship if applied properly. These temperaments includes:

    1. SANGUINE: This category of people are the ones with the “Let’s do it the fun way” motto. Sanguine needs are mostly social; that is they want to be noticed, appreciated, affirmed, accepted, and even adored. They tend to be animated and playful, spontaneous and optimistic, funny and lively. Sanguines also have weaknesses. They are so disorganized that they spend half their life looking for their car keys and the other half apologizing for missed appointments. Boredom and rejection are gets Sanguines down.

    2. CHOLERICS: Cholerics eat, sleep, and drink power and control. Whereas sanguines say “Let’s do it the fun way.” The choleric’s mantra is “Let’s do it my way.” Cholerics’ favorite emotional menu is obedience (towards them), appreciation for accomplishments, and respect for their ability. Cholerics come in handy when you need someone to take charge and make snappy (usually correct) judgements.

    3. MELANCHOLIES: Whereas the sanguine says “Let’s do it the fun way.” And the Choleric says “Let’s do it my way.” The melancholy says “Let’s do it the right way.” Melancholies put a lot of emotional energy into getting something done correctly. Melancholies can be brooding and very sensitive, but they are also usually marked with good manners, self-depreciation, and obvious attention to detail including in their grooming.

    4. PHLEGMATICS: “Can’t we all just get along?” that’s the song of the phlegmatic, who suggests, “Let’s do it the easy way.” As calm and collected individuals, phlegmatics aren’t likely to make impulsive decisions. They are often popular because they are rarely offensive. They will hang in there until the last dog is hung.
    In trying to distinguish the four kinds of personalities, Dr. Leman did not make one personality higher than the others. He explains it in such a way that enables the readers to accept and develop their personal traits and characters. He goes further to bring in his personal experience with his family’s into the picture which in a way proves, to some extent that the book was not based on mainly ficticious events. He also explains how the birth order of an individual affect the way (s)he acts towards certain issues. Emphasizing mainly on the fact that most Cholerics are first-born, Phlegmatics, Middle-born, and sanguines, last-borns.
    In the third part of the book, the writer emphasizes more on childhood memories and how they affect our way of thinking. He takes the reader back to their childhood memories and explains why choleric, melancholies, phlegmatic, and sanguines think the way they do. He lectures the reader on how to remember events that took place during their childhood and also points out how those events shaped them into the person they became.
    In the final part of the book, Dr. Kevin Leman talks about the understanding of one’s love language, mentioning also that as temperaments differs, so does love language, and points out how opposite attracts.
    He wraps it all up by listing out six personality makeovers which are as follows:

    i. Look Back: here he urges his readers to look back at their past no matter how hard it might hurt. Since, to move forward, we have to resolve past issues and events lest the make us fall.
    ii. Take Small Steps: Here he makes it clear that personality change does not happen magically, it is a gradual process.
    iii. Improve your self-talk
    iv. Marshal your imaginative energy
    v. Know your Destination
    vi. Give yourself room to fail.

    CRITIQUE
    Dr. Kevin Leman in his book “The Real You” plays the role of a psychologist, a father, a teacher, and to some extent, a mentor. He wrote the book in a way that it seems like an interactive session with his readers. His combination of religion gave the book a spark that is somewhat irresistible since most inspirational writers are or claim to be atheists. But at one point he got so caught up writing about other people’s success story that he forgot his audience.

    RECOMMENDATION
    I recommend the book to others because it is a great piece to know and study what temperament your partner is, what your partner’s love language is thereby reducing the mistakes in relationship that later cost someone emotionally and or otherwise.

    RATINGS
    I rate the book 3/5

    1. Ibukun Post author
      Thank you for joining us this month, Princewill!

      I think you just wrote a stellar review of this book. I had always that there was only one comprehensive book on temperaments ( Why You Act The Way You Do by Tim Lahaye ) but I love how this author explores love languages of people with different temperaments. That’s what differentiates it from the one I read.

      I’m off to look for it!

      1. Princewill
        Thanks Ibukun, off to look for (Why You Act The Way You Do by Tim Lahaye) too. Although this review is for march, i clicked on the wrong button that’s why its here.
  9. Saul Goodman
    Hi TNC. Personally, I read to learn how the mind of others work; seeing that human actions are so widely distributed that predicting them is almost futile. This month I read 2 books!
    1) Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and since then I can’t stop looking at everything – from politics to relationships – in the light of the book. It was a long read but definitely worth it.
    2) Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn which has taught me for the umpteenth time that actions – good or bad – are precipitates of previous actions. Vicious cycle.
    Next is Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman.

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