Saturday, December 18, 2010

Leading With The Heart- Mike Krzyzewski

I saw the review of this book on Coates' Blog and think I'm going to get a copy!

Leading With The Heart- Mike Krzyzewski


CHARACTER - "There are always those times when you're going to be down, it's how you step through it that makes you the person you are.''

COOPERATION - "People want to be on a team. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to be in a situation where they feel that they are doing something for the greater good."

EXCELLENCE -  "Everything we do has our own personal signature one it. So we want to do it as well as we possibly can."

LEADERSHIP - "Almost everything in leadership comes back to relationships."

LEADERSHIP - "People are not going to follow you as a leader unless you show them that you're real. They are not going to believe you unless they trust you. And they are not going to trust you unless you always tell them the truth and admit when you were wrong."

OPTIMISM - “Whether it's sunny or muddy or whatever, you figure a way to win. The only way you do that is to feel positively about your situation.”

PERSEVERANCE - "Don't let a single game break your heart."

RESPONSIBILITY -  "To be successful, you have to learn to do things you don't like. You find ways to like the process and make the most of that time." 

SELF-DEVELOPMENT -  "Mistakes are a part of the building process. Mistakes have to be made. How you act when you make mistakes is of paramount importance."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Review: Ugly by Constance Briscoe

“I shall write my story down. So far I have always been a private person, so this is the first time my story is being told.”

UGLY is a true life story of a loveless childhood. Written in a raw form, the author- Constance Briscoe, tells in vivid details of how she was abused emotionally and physically, especially by her mother, Carmen.

What kind of mother is void of love for a child she carried in her womb for nine months? Carmen was always furious about Clare's (Constance was called Clare as a child) flaw of wetting the bed... and often accused her of doing it on purpose. We also read in the book how different efforts were made to help Clare (Constance) overcome it, such as a special alarm set to go off once she starts wetting the bed. But it did not work. 

However, we read about how she never wet the bed when sleeping-out (e.g. while at Miss K's). Thus, it can be deduce that the problem was psychological. When living in constant fear and hate, how won’t one become a chronic sufferer of nocturnal enuresis?

When not twisting at Clare’s  nipples or pinching her, Carmen was squeezing at her “minnie” and calling her names such as ugly. Once she cried out “Lord, sweet Lord, how come she so ugly. Ugly. Ugly. If I hadn’t given birth to her, sweet Lord, I would have sworn she was a fraud…”

Each chapter in the book reveals the different phases of the author’s horrific childhood, her struggles and little triumphs amidst depression.

The author’s story telling style is deep yet tender. While such emotions as anger is invoked in readers, Constance also chipped in humorous scenes to lighten the mood.

Paul Magrath, another reviewer, reminds us of Constance’s defiance and doggedness.  He writes: “When attacked by her stepfather Eastman, for example, she goes to the local Magistrates’ Court and takes out a summons, as a result of which he is bound over to keep the peace, on pain of imprisonment. He keeps his own peace after that, but signally fails to keep that of Carmen, who later beats Clare so severely that she collapses at school and refuses to go home. A teacher, Miss Korchinskye, herself a refugee (from the concentration camps), offers to take her in. Fate punishes “Miss K” abysmally for this act of humanity: she is horrifically injured in an accident. But her kindness offers Clare a lifeline out of the hell of her domestic environment."

The author finds light at the end of her tunnel: Another turning point comes with a school trip to the Crown Court. One of the barristers involved is Michael Mansfield, now a leading crime practitioner and campaigning, media-savvy silk. On hearing that Clare, a schoolgirl in her early teens, wants to be a barrister, he not only pays her the compliment of taking her seriously but even promises her a pupillage.

Despite every discouragement from home and school, Clare passes her A-levels and gets into Newcastle University. Her mother makes one last attempt to bar her way to the Bar: asked to countersign her daughter’s university grant application form, she simply tears it up. Clare has to postpone her entry for a year and work as a nurse to make her own way. In 1982 she graduates in law and in 1983 is called to the Bar. She writes to Mansfield asking when she can start her pupillage. He writes back: “Dear Constance, Come as soon as you like.” (Review and interview by Paul Magrath).

The book is simply remarkable. The author’s experience will inspire one to strive to become a better person, irrespective of the circumstances surrounding one’s childhood. It teaches resilience, willpower/determination and faith. Bullied and beaten by peers and mother, Constance tells us how she carried her heavy childhood cross and flaws so lightly through the pages of Ugly to become a successful barrister and part-time judge.

How did she pull through? She completes the story in her sequel “Beyond Ugly”.

I really enjoyed Ugly...shed some tears, but it was worth reading! Now looking forward to reading "Beyond Ugly." Please go get your copy and share your thoughts about the book!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Zahrah the Windseeker: Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu

Book: Zahrah the Windseeker
Pages: 308
Date published: 2007

Author:  Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu
Publisher: Farafina, Lagos

Not a conventional review :)

By the time I got to Chapter 4, the Dark Market, the book was no where to be found. Chapter 4 was right after Zhrah discovered she could float in the air. The first thing that came to my mind was oh the Windseeker has come float my book away! I searched everywhere for it, and almost gave up. But apparently, a colleague who borrowed it earlier forgot it at the Bank, so she had to go back and do her own share of search-party.

The what ifs, coulda, shoulda, woulda flashed through my mind. I am kinda attached to my books, pens and umbrellas. Although the book cost about N1,000, I knew buying another copy won’t be the same as the first- it was a special gift! During those few minutes of searching and searching, I imagined my book already somewhere else in someone’s house. Afterall, (quote). But right at the point of almost giving up, tada! We found the book, all safe and sound. So like every reader, I got an opportunity to find out why Zharah floated and of course to complete the story!

But Zharah the Windseeker is not just about a story of a girl who floats in the air. The book, a children’s fiction, teaches about self-esteem- Zharah was tormented by peers for looking different but then, as the story unfolded, we saw her rise to accepting her uniqueness.

It also portrays the rebellion in every teenager. Zharah and Dari expressed theirs by exploring the dark market and everywhere out of bound. It teaches about loyalty of friendship as seen in Dari to Zharah.

The first Bookasaurus star! on this blog goes to the author, Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu, for allowing her imagination roar all through the pages of Zharah the Windseeker. You have to get your copy to find out what I am talking about! While at it, get extra copies for your younger siblings or kids. It will make a good Christmas/New Year gift for young readers.

Season’s Greetings!