Saturday, December 5, 2009

Uncommon by Tony Dungy with Nathan Whittaker

Do you have that courage to choose influence over image? Live your faith? Then you are on your way to living a life of significance! "Courage can be demonstrated by standing up to the school bully or intervening to prevent someone you don't know from being hurt. But more often than not, its the day-to-day moments of reaching down inside yourself to find the courage to stand alone that can be the toughest" Beautifully written and embroidered with such powerful quotes that will hold your interest, Tony Dungy, the former Colts' head coach, shares what it means to live a life of significance in his second book "Uncommon".

Punctuated by life teachings in the Chapters after the story of Brandon and Dallas, the author draws from his wealth of experience to explain the importance of developing the core- character; Honesty and Integrity; Humility and Stewardship; and Courage. Here, we are reminded that our gift, time and talents are entrusted to us, we don't own them. Thus, we must maximize them and be true to ourselves.

What else does it take to live a life of significance? Simply Love your family, says Dungy. Oh! Oh! This is deeper than you think. It covers the importance of honoring our parents to how to treat a woman, fatherhood, respect for authority etc. And then, he also explains the importance of lifting our friends and others.

One cannot live a life of significance without maximizing his full potential. But what happens when talent seems to conflict with Education? Choose wisely, says Dungy. Don't dump one over the other while establishing a mission that matters.

Although divided into seven parts, this thirty-one chapter book is worth diving into anytime of the day. The down-to-earth approach of the author(s) gives a personal touch that makes the pages come alive, thus, making the teaching practical and livable. Each chapter opens up a new topic that is equally relevant to everyone living under the sun. The Epilogue connects us back to Brandon and Dallas, with a new perspective on how they are redeeming their once neglected path- giving hope to readers who might think it is too late for them.

Some questions that popped into mind while reading the book were answered so satisfactorily in the question and answer section of the book. And this is definitely one of the reasons I call "Uncommon" a book written by an author that connects so well to his readers.

Uncommon, will make a good birthday or Christmas gift for your son, brother, protege, boyfriend, or male colleagues/acquaintances! Every man out there, in their formative years, should read this book. However, it is not restricted to male audience alone, I enjoyed reading it (even though I am a female) and found the lessons relevant to me as well. We all desire to live a life of significance, don't we? Then go order for/buy your copy now!

Friday, July 3, 2009


Title: Unbridled
Author: Jude Dibia
Pages: 207
Publisher: Blacksand books
Year: 2007

After reading the last sentence “for once, unbridled” (page 207), I unconsciously turned expectantly to the next page, yearning for more. Not because the story did not end well, but because the book is so interesting that you can read it in one sitting and be left to ponder afterwards…

The author, Jude Dibia, who won the 2007 ANA/NDDC Ken Saro-Wiwa prize, tells a shocking but deeply moving story of Ngozi in an easy to understand language that makes the story so unforgettable. However, what puzzles me most about the book is how Dibia, a man, could tell a story through a woman’s eyes so well. He tells me in the Acknowledgment page “…I spent a lot of time with…women who were willing to share with me the way women react to issues, think and love…”

Thus, using the first-person narrative and flashback technique, Dibia effortlessly takes us through the turbulent life of Ngozi, who in a bid to rebuild her life from the horror of a loveless childhood is lured to England by an internet romance. And 227 days later, she treads her new path as Mrs. Erika King. But she soon realizes that her new life is still stuck in shallow waters. How will she get out of it?

Bessie, one of Erika’s friends, urges her to break away from being so needing of King. “Men” she continued, “It’s almost their unbridled ambition to destroy women. We are not their slaves Erika. You must remember this. Even Diana had to let go. Her divorce was right. Women are life and we have to seek life. Don’t wait until it is too late.” (Page 162). But does she take the bait?

The dominant theme of the book can be sum up in the popular saying “Not all that glitters is gold.” But it carries a more powerful message that encourages women to find their voice and not sit mum in the shadow of their problem. The story also questions the ignorance that muddles our culture. For example, Nnamdi, Ngozi’s brother, refused to confront their father when Ngozi complained of being sexually abused by him (father) because “it is not a woman’s place to complain about her father.” (Page 151). Similarly, Ngozi’s aunty expressed this same ignorance when she applied dry pepper (hot chili) to Ngozi’s private part in an attempt to punish or curb her promiscuity (page 100-101).

Dibia’s “Unbridled” deserves a rave review and much accolade for capturing the fear, tears, stupidity, desperation, and courage of the 21st century woman living everywhere. While narrating the story, the author did not hold back his outstanding creative ability to interweave the past and present life of Ngozi. He did not mix up Erika and Ngozi, who although are the same, played different role in unfolding the plot so brilliantly. However, don’t get uncomfortable with the Igbo language that buzz in some of the pages, it is part of the settings of the characters, and maybe the author’s culture (language) showing off its essence.

I enjoyed reading “Unbridled”. Please get your copy and read it to find out if you will too. Don’t forget to come back and share your thoughts about the book here!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

IN DAYS TO COME: A review by Ketki Yennemadi

Book:IN DAYS TO COME (Collection of Poems)
Author: Jennifer Ehidiamen
Publisher: The Young Poet Society U.K
Year: 2004

A review by Ketki Yennemadi

No sinuous rhymes and no syrupy language. Yet with her first book "In days to come" Jennifer Ehidiamen strikes a chord. "In Days To Come" is a collection of poems that put into words the life in Lagos. The words blend beautifully with the theme to present a picture which is beautiful and yet so achingly human. The simple words and a heavy use of blank verse make emotions stir in the heart of the reader.

It will be untrue to say that all the poems are an exemplary of poetic writing as there is always room for improvement. However one cannot belittle her talent of putting her thoughts into words to create a picture in the mind of the reader which is no small feat for a first-timer. It an admirable attempt at putting forth a plight of people, today, in Lagos.

This anthology of touching poetic compositions by Ehidiamen shows obvious talent and intention. With their simplicity and profoundness of the poems all the poetry lovers have definitely witnessed the dawn of a poetry star!

Ketki Yennemadi

Monday, June 22, 2009

TIME: June 22 edition review

The June 22nd edition of Time Magazine...Did you read a copy? Well, what attracted me to this edition is actually not the bold picture of Gordon Brown’s back that compliments the headline “Why Britian wants to see The Back of Gordon Brown” but the earpiece headline on the right corner of the front cover- Amazon’s Quest to Shape the Future of Books. As a matter of fact, it is a very critical story that deserves a wide-audience read! Imagine the future with the new big-screen Kindle Dx, an e-book! Well, the sky isn’t falling, yet…

“If you're a reader, you probably consider Amazon your friend. And it is. It recommends books to you and gets them to your door for cheap. But try shifting your point of view to that of a publisher and Amazon starts looking a bit scarier.”

Inside the Arts section, which as a matter of fact have got some tight articles, another one that might interest you is Lev Grossman’s stories on the two survivors’ of plane crash stories.

Also, Belinda Luscumbe enchants us with her article on social norms, which reveals the two side of a coin called social networking sites! Ouch! Watch out facebookers! However, if you are keener about learning some life skills, like how to save more dough, then read Linda Bastianich’s life coach.

For the politically inclined fans of Time Magazine, the June 22nd edition will sure give you’re a deep angle into the Labour pains…as it was termed! Obama was not left out of the news Peter Beinart and Joe Klein’s commentary and in the arena articles spoke volumes on the Middle East Peace quest!

Flipping through the pages of the TIME, from Josh Tryangiel’s hilarious Postcard: The Bronx through the verbatim, spotlight, global news etc. etc. I gained a better understanding of the global issues currently blowing hot and cold!

One more reason to read TIME magazine!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I HAVE LIFE! by Alison and Marianne Thamm

Book: I Have Life: Alison's Journey as Told to Marianne Thamm.
Author: Marianne Thamm
Fusion Press (June 2003)

The story, an autobiography, begins when Alison, while trying to park her car after a night out with her friends, is attacked by two callous killers who drove her away from her home in Port Elizabeth to a place they raped her, stabbed her many times, slit her throat and left her for dead in a filthy deserted clearing.

This story about surviving rape (and murder) as told by Alison and written by Marianne Thamm is very captivating. For the fainthearted, the book will shake you to the core of your being because it is written in its raw form. When I first picked up a copy of the book and read the synopsis, I had a clear feeling that it would make me cry and after Chapter one, I let the tears freely flow.

It is a sad account of how a young lady was raped, stabbed and left to die in a desolated place at the dead of the night. However, it is also a very inspiring account of life- living life and surviving!

The first part of the book tells us how Alison was car-jacked at knife point, raped, stabbed so many times (that the doctors could not count her wounds), and left for dead miles away from her home. The remaining part tells how Alison truimphed over the painful experience afflicted by her assaillants and chose to have her life back...instead of hiding away or keeping mum out of fear of stigmatization.

I admire Alison's courage, which really helped her in having her life back. It wasn't easy but she made it and rose from being a victim of a brutal rape and attempted murder into a victor who uses her tragic experiences into inspiring others to live life. The role her family and friends played during this process was not left out of the story. Reading the contributions from Alison's family, friends, and the man (Thienne) who saved her after she was abadoned by the rapists gave a deeper picture to Alison's story.

The first-person narration technique makes the story come alive as Alison, in terrifying details, describes her thoughts and feelings throughout the attack, while in hospital, recovering at home and getting back on her feet, and shows how attitude, belief, and choice (her ABC philosophy of life) helped her survive the ordeal.

Meanwhile, in the account, Alison's surname was not mentioned once! Is this to protect her privacy or it was just an over sight?

From my research, I learnt that Alison is happily married and she has a son. She is a public inspirational speaker who tours the world sharing her story of survival. The Author, Marianne Thamm is an award-winning journalist and she has written for different magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Fair Lady, House and Leisure, and Style.

It doesn't matter what happens to us in life, it is what we do with it that matters. I HAVE LIFE is a story of hope! I encourage you to read it because it conveys a powerful message that we can all apply to our life, no matter the circumstances!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

EVERY DAY is for THE THIEF- A review!

Author: Teju Cole
Publisher: Cassava Republic
Year: 2007
Pages: 128
Price: N700

One reviewer described the book as a display of an acute grasp of how the city called Lagos functions- and I agree. Every day is for the thief is an iconic cultural depiction of our society. Using a first-person narrative technique, Teju Cole vividly captures the reality we sometimes prefer to deny.

The story begins at the Consulate on Second Avenue in New York and transports us to the lively city called Lagos. Every day is for the thief although a fiction, the novel is so factual content-wise. It chronicles the experience of an unnamed narrator as he takes you with him on an exciting but bumpy visit to Lagos after living in Diaspora for 15 years. Is he shocked by the level of corruption, insecurity, poor education, lack of infrastructure and social amenities, delusion of grandeur, dogmatism that people hold to religion, desperation of men, and its effect on our society? He tells us the story, leaving nothing out, as he shares in the struggle of the people and their seemingly complacent attitude and mentality to these burning issues/challenges.

I live in Lagos. But I do not think I could have told the story better than Teju Cole. Interestingly, the setting of the novel is an area I am familiar with, most of the places mentioned have I visited or traveled through. And the people described are similar to people I see or interact with everyday. But with a little exaggeration, Cole tells the story better in a new and interesting way.

His style of writing is mesmerizing. As the plot unfolds; you are made to feel what the narrator feels. The author does not mince words, but he does not waste them either, while telling our story in a “say it as it is” approach without inhibition- a style more African writers must adopt in telling our story right to the world.

The first chapter introduces us to the reality of life overseas and how similar the trend is to Nigeria- the desperation that justifies corruption. There is a Mr. Abdul almost everywhere we try to transact business. However, the chapter that follows, set in Lagos, exposes the corruption and negligence that has eaten deep into the system. And a sense of hope- why we must hope- is restored in Chapter six when the narrator meets his first cousin- a child that represents the future of our society.

Lagos comes alive again in chapter seven and we are enveloped in “the energies of Lagos life- creative, malevolent, ambiguous…” (pg 32). A bit of Cole’s exaggeration makes me squirm: ha! Mr. Author, I take the Danfo Bus almost everyday. It is not a transport system set aside for idiots as you depict here. I think the bit about literacy on Chapter eight is also stretched beyond truth. I definitely do not agree that “it is a hostile environment for the life of the mind.” Okay, I must keep in mind that the novel is a fiction, thus exaggeration allowed!

Reading the book Everyday is for the thief fills me with excitement, courage, tranquility, confusion, shame and fear about this society. “…and yet, and yet. The place exerts an elemental pull…there is no end to the fascination” (pg 57). In words and pictures- yes, Teju Cole shows off his photography skills which is presented in the pictures worth 5000 words that accompanies the chapters- this book tells you a lot about Lagos (things are changing for good though), and Lagos is where Nigeria begins…you will learn so much about the complexity of the country called Nigeria from the novel. The book is beautifully written in an expressive language, which makes it an interesting read. The powerful description makes the characters come alive in all the pages. The simplicity of the plot conciliates the underlying intensity.
But what does the author share in common with the narrator? Cole answers in his introductory note “the unnamed narrator of the story is similar to me in certain ways, and different in some other ways. But he and I are not the same person.” As the narrator returns to the USA, he provokes, and leaves us with the responsibility of challenging our social norms.
Every day is for the thief is a novel that will stand the test of time. Like Chinua Achebe’s Things fall apart, I hope it will reach every bookshelf across the world and be around to remind us of where we are coming from. This review is not to tell the story but to make you go out, buy a copy and read it. I enjoyed reading it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Book review: My life - story by Arti Honrao

Book: My life – story

Author: Arti Honrao

Year Published: 2008

Publisher: Sai-Kiran Publications

No. of pages: 71

If only Kavya had listened to her sister and father, it would have saved her a lot of headache and heartache. “I love him and no one can stop me!” she tells us in page 25. But I ask, why will any young lady fall in love with a man who acted irresponsibly with her sister? That is love, a powerful emotion that can control us as we let it. Kavya stubbornly refused to learn from her sister’s experience and received her own share of “…sorrow and Joy are two sides of a coin” page 71. When she finally wakes up to smell the coffee, she found it too late- it had gone cold…or maybe not?

In the book “My life - story”, the author Arti Honrao narrates a tangled love story in a creative and intense way that leaves you emotionally exhausted but asking for more. The story begins at the ending, using a flash back technique; the plot opens on Kavya, the heroine who takes us through her ordeal in a first-person narration.

The first page, like the cover illustration gives nothing away. You just have to keep guessing because the plot is unpredictable. The author’s ability to carry you along keeps you mesmerized until the last line. Also, her first-person narrative technique makes you a part of the plot development. The characters are described to soothe the role they played in the book. For example, Shantanu “was like the first-drop of rain falling on the scorched earth after a long hot summer.” Pg 13.

However, the story was too embed on telling us an emotional tale. Did the author lack the skill to be more detailed or did she deliberately avoid telling us about the other aspect of the Characters? I would have loved to read about what they ate, their clothing style, the environment etc. this would have reduced the intensity of the plot and lightened the sad mood that overwhelmed the theme. It would have also projected the India culture to a global audience.

Unarguably, Arti Honrao’s imaginative writing covered up for whatever flaw that lies in the book. "...most of my writings depicts human feelings and emotions, which i try to bring out onto the page and into the minds of the reader" said Arti Honrao. And she did just that in this book. You could feel her passion and creative expertise with words as you follow the story. She intrudes your mind with vivid imagination that makes the characters come alive in the book. Kavya’s voice was strong all through because the author employed her poetic instinct through the way she plays with words while telling the story.

I was most enthralled by the plot as well as the character development that helps make a complicated theme so easy to understand. My life – story is about love, companionship, deceit, hatred and lost. Although its realistic ending was on a note of hope and tranquility, the tragic mood was much stronger. Indeed, the simplicity of the language makes it easy for even my six years old niece to decipher but the intensity of the story is too captivating for a child’s mind. My Life – Story is a very deep book that you will enjoy reading.