Review: Honour by Elif Shafak

Honour is an inter-generational saga set in 1970s London which highlights the narrow-minded and dangerous opinion of some cultures when it comes to a woman’s ‘honour’. Written by an author who excels in narrating domestic settings and struggles, Honour is yet another work of fiction where Elif Shafak does not fail to leave us speechless, retrospective and entranced with her words. This is a book which shows us the importance of communication and how we as human beings lack the ability to share our troubles and thoughts with one another. How falling short of this ability often costs us relationships and how understanding and communication could possibly save a life. It highlights the impact someone’s actions have on those around them, along with other aspects of the immigrant life all the while, subtly reflecting on the clash of cultures and traditions.

A theme I find common to Shafak’s books is the realization that everyone in your life has their stories, their struggles and are very often absorbed by them. In Honour, this theme is brought to life by the focus of the book- the Topraks, a Turkish family disconnected from each other most of the time and broken by their individual experiences. Pembe and Adem Toprak leave for London from Istanbul to start a new life for their family and try to keep their Turkish and Islamic traditions alive in their three children- knowing they will be influenced by Western ways of life. The children find themselves torn between tradition and modernity, further troubled by the stifling situation at home.

By telling us the stories of Pembe and Adem, who had tough childhoods, absentee parents and dysfunctional families the author shows us that however hard you try, you cannot escape or erase the past. For it will find a way to catch up with you and seep into your present. This is another trademark theme of Shafak’s books- expressed here through Pembe and Adem’s past affecting their lives in London as well as those of their children who suffer its consequences.

The basis of the book is of course the concept of ‘honour’ and its varying perceptions in Turkish and Western culture. In the case of the Topraks, honour is more of a code consisting of the chastity, fidelity and modesty of a woman and a man’s ability to lead and assert his power over his family and ‘act like a man’. Thus we see how breaking of this oppressive code leads to shame and disgrace of various members specifically women of the Toprak’s past and unbelievably, their death. Honour killings, which Western culture would think of as a brutal crime is somewhat normalized in the minds of certain characters in the book.

In Honour, Elif Shafak brings light to a topic that isn’t talked about enough- honour killings. She lays emphasis on what I would assume is the reader’s perspective, that is the dark and wrong side of honour killings but provides insight into the mindset which fuels it as well. This is done through the characters for instance, two of the Toprak children- Iskender and Esma. Esma is the outspoken and confident feminist daughter (one of my personal favourites) who questions her mother’s old-fashioned traditions. Esma is juxtaposed with her brother Iskender, a product of the expectations of men. He finds himself shaped by bullying and conservative friends and family. So, you disagree with his opinions but can’t help empathize with him as well for what he’s gone through.

Final thoughts~ Overall, Elif Shafak’s Honour is a powerful read. It shows us that honour is but a social construct which can ruin lives. The same honour which determines someone’s reputation in Turkish society does not hold the same importance in Western culture. We see how ‘shame’ is considered almost a punishable crime in the eyes of Pembe, but is used lightly by the Londoners around her. Even if the ending is a hopeful one, the devastating events described throughout the book still leave your heart heavy. This book takes you places whether it be a nameless Kurdish village or a building of squatters in London. Elif Shafak’s books take something esoteric, such as an honour killing and make it something approachable. She is such an underrated author.

“Everything in the universe, no matter how little or insignificant, was meant to be an answer to something else.”

~Elif Shafak, Honour.

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

Honour by Elif Shafak

Honour- Elif Shafak

Honour| #bookreview

Enjoy not Endure

Why are we so blatantly obsessed with getting our hands on the unattainable? With being the unattainable? Let’s face it, when something’s inherently hard to achieve, it automatically goes higher on the scale of achievements, or when a product is less in number, it automatically becomes expensive and in demand. Like in March 2020, when everyone rushed to hoard essential supplies before the lockdown, and when stores were empty the price of things like toilet paper increased online. But, this isn’t true only to essentials. Take uber-luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci for example; because they’re expensive, few people have them and as a result, they’re put on a pedestal.

The thing is, most brands work this way. Having year-end or 24-hour long sales, or selling limited editions of a product is a great way for brands to draw customers as crowds form endless lines to attain the unattainable. It is because of this obsession, that the economy even works. There’s even a name for the theory- it’s called ‘The Scarcity Principle’. The principle means that humans place a higher value on objects that are scarce and a lower value on those that are abundant. Diamonds are more valuable than rocks because diamonds aren’t as abundant. Not only value but our perception of anything changes with it being scarce as well.

The principle works because we’re wired to think that way, nurtured in a society that lives on this principle. The education system is an example of this: the schools that take only the best of the best and have limited seats, are most people’s first choice. Even in terms of grades, few kids get the highest score and so of course, we all want it. This attitude is what creates the rat race, that never-ending need to get to the top and working to stay there.

If you think about it, the trope in fiction of the ‘popular boy’ going for the ‘only girl that doesn’t fall at his feet’ or even the one where the most eligible bachelor is the one that doesn’t want company in the first place is sort of a product of the scarcity principle mindset. I’d be rich if I had a penny for every time I heard the male lead in a movie talk about his longing for the female lead that’s playing ‘hard to get’.

So, there’s a thought process behind why a ‘one-time-only’ event seems more valuable than an event that happens every week. But, don’t get me wrong I am not condemning once in a lifetime opportunities. Working towards being a part of the crème de la crème and achieving your goal, is a wonderful feeling! However, once you’re at the top your worst fear is going back down. So, you’re doing everything in your power to stay there even when nothing is threatening your position.

Having said that, the mindset has its pros. It keeps a person driven. So, enjoy your accomplishments and keep alive that hope and drive for your goals.

I am of course, no expert and haven’t covered everything in this blog post. Definitely do your own research and you’ll surely learn a lot more about the principle. I’ve provided some helpful links at the end!

SOURCES/ MORE ON THE TOPIC:

What Is The Scarcity Principle?

The Scarcity Mindset

The Psychology of Scarcity

Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah is a note-worthy work of fiction featuring two journeys that are both extremely different yet similar in some ways. Although the main focus is a love-story, it branches into so much more giving us well-rounded, brilliant but flawed characters. It shows us what finding your place in the world looks like and that it isn’t the destination, rather the journey. This is peppered with insights on racism, immigration and politics which are narrated through the characters’ experiences. The book is centered around Ifemelu and Obinze, who meet and fall in love in high school in Nigeria.

The characters are deep and multifaceted for they’re predictable yet unpredictable. They i.e the author expresses things that seem profound but you realize that these observations are so obviously visible in our world. The characters are my favorite part. Ifemelu, our opinionated ‘Americanah’ is a Nigerian woman who is uncomfortably frank at times and dares to question everything. We then have Obinze, her first love, sort of the only one who could stand Ifemelu’s hotheadedness and pushed her to think ahead. Both characters are very similar in terms of their ideologies and most of all their aspirations. Growing up in Nigeria, Ifemelu and Obinze are happy but always longing for more. They talk about how it wasn’t only them but everyone in Nigeria who was conditioned to believe that prosperity, happiness and ‘the good life’ is found outside of Nigeria. However, both set out only to find that even outside of Nigeria ‘the good life’ isn’t found easily. Halfway through college, Ifemelu has enough of the protests and political instability in Nigeria and applies to a university in America. Obinze sets out years later but to the UK instead, unable to get a visa he lives an undocumented life.

There’s a consecutive struggle and depressing period for both characters on eventually settling in and it’s inspiring to see them fight through it. Ifemelu’s life in America is filled with self-discovery, great people with interesting personalities and her uncovering truths about racism. She talks a lot about the difference between being an American Black and a Non-American Black in America. These parts were truly eye-opening and brought light to a phenomenon so relevant to today’s America. These insights have been woven into the story seamlessly so don’t seem educational or preachy but a mere thought of the character. I enjoyed seeing America through Ifemelu’s eyes.

Another focus of the book is immigration in both America and England. Both places have different histories and reputations which leads to the two characters’ having contrasting experiences as well. In America, Ifemelu’s story mainly deals with racism. Her race is seen as a barrier in everything she wants to accomplish. She acknowledges Black hair politics, the Obama administration and in general America’s race divide. Obinze in London on the other hand, lives in constant fear of being deported. The author also describes the saddening lengths he has to go to in order to get his papers. Apart from them, the many terrors of immigration are shown in the form of other characters like friends and family members. The book really highlights how immigration begins to define you and remains a sword hanging above your head.

The main storyline however, is that Ifemelu and Obinze eventually return to Nigeria. Both are altered by what they’ve faced. We see how Nigeria to them is a symbol of comfort, of one another and a place where they finally find what they were looking for.

Americanah is a story of discovery, of facing your fears and of staying true to your roots. Some say it’s a classic immigrant story and maybe it is, but I think it is more of a modern take on it. Even if the characters struggled and faced what might seem like things you’ve read about before, isn’t that a sign that there needs to be change?

Final thoughts~ With reference to the name, ‘Americanah’ is what people call Ifemelu when she returns to Nigeria. It’s a reference to the fact that her persona is now Americanized and her perspective has changed. But, Ifemelu proudly takes on the title. I think it’s also a reference to the fact that America not only impacted her, but changed those around her for the better. That being said, this book is full of witty remarks and strong-willed characters with lots to say. It’s the kind of book which asks the hard questions and pushes you to ask them. After this, I’m looking forward to reading more of Chimamanda Adichie’s work!

“Why did people ask, ‘What is it about?’ as if a novel had to be about only one thing.”

~ Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

Pages Feature: “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Thoughts on Americanah

Book Review- Americanah

Dwell in Possibilities

Last blog post of the year! Usually, at the end of a year I recount the things I’m thankful for, so this time I want to emphasize one of the things that got me through this nightmare of a year- nostalgia. When I think of nostalgia, buzzwords like memories and dreams come to mind. I once read that being nostalgic means you’re stuck in the past. I’ve even read that nostalgia is a form of day-dreaming! However, this year, I’ve realized that it is anything but. I realized what being nostalgic truly feels like. As the world came crashing down, nostalgia was my getaway. Thinking of good times from 2019 or earlier became a coping mechanism.

To some, nostalgia is a picture, a memory, a book. To me, music is what unlocks nostalgia, is what unlocks that overflow of bitter-sweet memories that you can’t help but smile at. This year, I think we all needed an escape sometimes and that’s okay. Recounting memories isn’t living in the past, but is cherishing it. When I’m nostalgic, I find myself thinking how fast something went by and it makes me all the more intent on enjoying the present. Nostalgia also has more of a motivating factor for me. It gives me that rush of adrenaline I need to finish that last bit of work or read that last chapter as my eyes get heavy. Sometimes you need that boost from the past to enjoy the present.

This post doesn’t really have a lesson, rather I want to bring to light an underrated emotion. Think about it, in every book or movie, when nothing seems to work out for the main character or they lost the love of their life or their idea didn’t go as planned- what helps? They flashback to a better time in their lives and they are inspired to continue, to start anew. Then follows the happy ending.

Nostalgia also gave me hope. Hope that things will get better, hope that the next day won’t be as bad. Hope is always followed by something good. If anything, 2020 was a year filled with hope. Even if it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows, we had our good moments. I certainly did, and nostalgia got me there. Even now, as the year ends and we say ‘I hope 2021 is better’ that’s hope. That’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever came our way, we never stopped hoping. For me, a part of that hope came from nostalgia. From the bitter aspect of it, which reminded me of all my blue days, and how they didn’t last.

So, thanks nostalgia. You can keep collecting my memories and letting them out when someone asks me ‘What’s a memory that you cherish?’ or ‘What’s a time you’d wish to relive?’ and then, follows the sudden rush of joy and a dash of longing I like to call nostalgia.

As 2020 ends, there are some moments I’d like to remember but overall, I think this year will be a reminder to me, that disaster struck but we went on, times changed but we slowly adapted, and that no matter what happens you have to keep going.

PS.- Of all things, I’ll remember this as the year I started this blog:)

Happy New Year!

Review: Miss Austen by Gill Hornby (Birthday Bookshelf #1)

Series Alert! I am so excited to start my first series on the blog. Since my birthday just went by on Christmas Eve, I received several books as gifts (which is honestly the best gift you can give me) and, reading them and reviewing them feels a lot more special than it normally would. So, let this review mark the beginning of the series- Birthday Bookshelf! Shoutout to my dad for this book:)

At first glance, my brain automatically thought of Jane on reading Austen. But, the book is in fact about Jane’s sister- Cassandra Austen: The dutiful, compassionate, often undermined eldest daughter of the Austen clan. I love reading about the sidekicks of history’s heroes- the shaping factors and often only supporters in the idols’ lives. Like Patroclus for Achilles and in the case of this book, Cassandra for Jane. The book is told from Cassandra’s point of view. Cassandra and Jane were very close, they had the kind of bond that even reading about makes you smile, they were each the other’s confidante and best friend. So, it was pretty much decided that Cassandra was to be the executor of Jane’s literary estate.

The basis of the book was one of Cassandra’s doings as executor, which was that she burned some of Jane Austen’s letters. This is something that has set historians and scholars against her for years because those letters would be priceless in this day and age. The book revolves around a few months in Cassandra’s life as an old woman, where she comes to her (and Jane’s) best friend’s home to find the letters. As she reads them, they take her back to her youth and bring back fond memories of her life and her sister as well as some painful memories she’d wished to forget. Towards the end of the book, it’s understandable why Cassy chose to burn those letters. You resonate with her as she simply performed her duties as executor and chose to maintain her sister’s perfect image at a time when her novels were just beginning to flourish and a lot of vengeful folks would do anything to bring her down using somewhat controversial aspects of her life.

That being said, this book is an ode to the Jane Austen style of writing and the setting and way of life described was exactly like the kind in her novels. Throughout the book, I drew many parallels between the happenings of the life of Jane Austen and that of her characters. For instance, Cassy and Jane Austen’s relationship and their personalities seemed immensely similar to Jane and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. It goes to show how she took inspiration from her world and expressed it so well.

The main focus of the book is Cassy though, and I adored her. Cassandra Austen was the more popular sister in society. She was ever-ready to help anyone who needed it and being dutiful and loyal towards her family was what she took pride in. She did have her share of difficulties though and there was this phase in the book where it felt like nothing seemed to work out in her favor and she became a pushover of sorts. It saddened me to see that even though she helped everyone, she never received any gratitude in return. However, things did pick up towards the end and I could not put the book down. The best part of the book was seeing the situation through the hopeful perspective of Cassandra. Making the reader feel what you’re writing about is hard, so kudos to the author for making me nostalgic when Cassy thought of her family and pensive when she described what women, especially unmarried women went through and how she wished people understood that she was happy even without a husband.

The book dwells upon themes of family, love, faith- which we often forget how simple yet fulfilling can be. Another theme that the book often mentioned but didn’t entirely focus on was that of women, especially in the Austen sisters’ time being ignored. Cassandra talks of how she read novels of men and their terrible lives but never of the difficulties in society or even in their homes that women went through. To an extent, I think the popularity of Jane Austen’s novels increased for that reason. Women longed to be represented, to see main characters they relate to. Jane Austen gave them that, she told their story for a change.

The letters included in the book are fictional and written by Gill Hornby. This was a fact I did not know until I read the Author’s Note at the end and I was surprised that Jane’s essence was captured so well, the words felt real. I adored the Austens as a family, they supported Jane and Cassandra in every way and were in general a vibrant family. I will admit though, that at some points this book was slow and there wasn’t anything interesting happening. Some parts just seemed unnecessary.

There have been many retellings about Jane Austen’s life but this was a fresh perspective because Cassandra saw Jane’s mistakes, saw everyone’s mistakes but remained admiring of them. They don’t become lesser in her eyes, or yours instead you resonate with them. That’s what I found unique about Cassy’s character.

Final thoughts- This book answered many questions about the misses Austen’s lives. It showed us why Cassy burned some of her sister’s letters, it showed us how Jane became what she became and who got her there. Cassy was defined (back then) by the fact that she never married, so were a lot of the other characters we read about. The book shows us that there was so much more to her, to them than that. Lastly, Miss Austen shows us why Jane called Cassandra the sunshine of her life. It also highlights how you can find perfection in imperfection, happiness in mundanity. Even if this book, doesn’t scream a strong message, it makes you smile and is the perfect light and winter read. If you’re looking for a book to snuggle up with, this one’s for you!

“Happy endings are there for us somewhere, woven into the mix of life’s fabric. We just have to search the detail, follow the pattern, to find the one that should be our own. ”

~ Gill Hornby, Miss Austen.

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

Book Review: Miss Austen

Book Review: Miss Austen

Cassandra Austen, Clergyman’s Daughter: Miss Austen, Gill Hornby

Is That The Only Question?

There seems to be this big, apparently defining question, to which I am always looking for an answer. Or rather everyone around me is. I don’t know if it comes with being a student, or if the question continues to follow you around until you have an answer! You’re probably wondering what the question is. It’s a question that I ask myself every day and each day I seem to have a different answer. This overwhelming question is: Who do you want to be? Have you thought about your career? Why is that the first question we ask a student at any stage of their education? From a young age we’re led to believe that our happiness lies in finding the perfect career path. Why is finding a job equivalent to everlasting happiness and stability?

The question may not seem that scary at first, but the minute the test(s) that will apparently determine your future come close, or you’re about to graduate, it can get pretty stressful. Academic stress is a major reason for suicide, anxiety, and mental health illnesses among a lot of students. It is common to see students stressed and under pressure in a society that believes in keeping students in check by pushing them beyond their limits. Students follow draconian rules and study schedules that leave them feeling depleted and depressed.

Now I may not be the first person telling you this, but it’s okay to not know. Everyone around you might be urging you to find that one perfect job. That if you fall short of this perfection, you are depriving yourself of happiness and not living up to your true potential. ‘’Make the right choice and achieve the ideal grades now and you’re set!’’ they say. I may be wrong but I don’t recall any interview in which a retiree says, ‘’I wish I had achieved a 98% grade point average instead of a 97.5% because that has made all the difference in my life.’’ No, they always seem to say something on the lines of, ‘’enjoy life because it goes by quickly.’’

So, today I am answering this ‘giant’ question, for myself and all my well-wishers. ‘Who do I want to be?’ Well, I choose to be happy! Take each day as it comes, make spontaneous decisions, be amazed by every little surprise that life throws at me and basically, just go with the flow!

Maybe next time you meet me, you can ask me another question. After all, there is more to me, to all of us than what we want to be in the future!

Moreover, as my mom once told me during a ‘what am I going to be!’ panic attack- Nobody has it all figured out, and you certainly can’t figure it out in a day, or a month. The future’s a long time away and of course, nothing ever goes according to plan. (she’s one of the few unique people who lives in the present and doesn’t care about the future) So, relax! Even though this question feels like an ultimatum, I’ve learned from those around me that it isn’t. There are more questions to ask, more to answer. Let’s start the conversation!

OTHER BLOG POSTS ON THE TOPIC:

It’s OK To Not Have It All Figured Out

HELP!!! I’M PRESSURED!

Do You Also Have No Idea What You Want To Do In Life?

Review: Hunted By The Sky by Tanaz Bhathena

Hunted By The Sky is the first fantasy fiction set in India that I’ve read and it certainly had all the elements- a prophecy, said prophecy’s chosen one, and a magical land. The book is set in medieval- India, in the kingdom of Ambar. A well-developed setting is the foundation of any good book and this one might be the best I’ve seen thus far. Ambar features vibrant people, delicious food, lavish structures, and a lot of traditions. However, it also has a dark side which came with the rule of its evil and current King. The people of Ambar are either born with magical powers or none at all and those who weren’t are treated like dirt and forced to survive in horrible conditions. Another victim of this ill-treatment are girls born with a star-shaped birthmark- who according to a prophecy, would kill the King. Thus, these girls and their families were hunted down and killed.

Gul, the main character is one such girl, born with a birthmark. She and her parents move from one place to another, staying hidden from the Sky Warriors i.e killers of the chosen one. They live peacefully until one night, Gul’s parents are killed in front of her while she watches from her hiding place. Then begins the plot of the book- Gul’s journey as the chosen one with multiple motives to kill the King including revenge for her parents’ death. Along the way, she’s helped by Cavas, a boy without magical powers, and the ‘Sisters of the Golden Lotus’- a secret organization of women who train warriors and protect marked girls and women in general.

For most fantasy fiction books, it always takes me a while to get used to the new world which authors form, but this book was easy to read from the beginning because I was in a world I experience everyday. As I wrote before, Hunted By The Sky is set in medieval-India with its traditions and history, but the characters seem to be living in an atmosphere quite like present India. Having studied and heard stories of India in its medieval times, I’ve always thought that it would make for an amazing fantasy because it’s already halfway there! This book expressed the era well. Some aspects, especially the ending reminded me of the Six of Crows duology and so this book is kind of medieval India meets Six of Crows. (Those who’ve read SOC know how awesome that sounds)

This may be an unpopular opinion but Gul wasn’t my favorite character. She’s last on the list of my favorites because she was so ungrateful, rude, and presumptuous at times. I love the other unconventional characters the author created especially Gul’s guiding lights- Juhi, Kali, and Amira. Being the heads of the Sisterhood of the Golden Lotus they played a bigger part in the story than let on. Juhi being the strategic and judicious, mother-figure. Kali the kind-hearted but feisty sister to Gul and Amira who you hate at first, but she ends up becoming the hard-hearted savior you needed. All of the characters have their own stories and have gone through so much which fuels their plan against their common enemy. In a way, it shows how some of our actions and perspectives are a product of our experiences.

It was great to see that no matter how many new characters and problems came in, Gul never lost her motive which was to bring justice to the outcasts and mistreated, whoever they may be. That was something I saw throughout. Every time a new plan was hatched, one of the ultimate benefits was to free the imprisoned and correct injustice, which is surely a noteworthy aim for anyone to have!

Final thoughts- When picking a book, I always glance away from fantasy, but whenever I do read fantasy I’m reminded of how innovative of a genre it is and how much I like reading it! Hunted By The Sky is suggested if you want to learn about medieval-Indian and Persian mythology and culture. Even though a lot is happening the book doesn’t feel rushed at all and the ending does leave room to continue to the sequel. Can’t wait to read what happens next!

“Not all dreams are true, but not all are false either.” ~ Tanaz Bhathena, Hunted By The Sky.

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

5 Reasons To Read Hunted By The Sky

Hunted By The Sky By Tanaz Bhathena

Hunted by the sky

The Liebster Award

This is part two of my awards post and it also features one of my favorite awards. I posted part one- on the Mystery Blogger Award, you can read that here . Anyway, I am always excited to be nominated for any award but the Liebster Award is, in my opinion, a great innovation in so many ways. It’s actually the first award I read about, the one which introduced me to the whole blogging award concept! For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Liebster Award is a badge of recognition of sort. Only given to bloggers with less than 3,000 followers, it’s main aim is to bring new and aspiring bloggers up and help them grow. As an aspiring and relatively new blogger myself, I think the Liebster Award is so important. For many of us, it’s the first award we’re nominated for. Personally, it’s not only motivated me to work all the more harder on A Writ Much, but it’s given me that feeling of reassurance that yes, someone out there is reading my words and they think they’re good. Now I know that I’m not just sending my thoughts into a desolate void!

Also, thanks once again Tall Blonde Tales for the nomination. Check her blog out!

“The Liebster Award” is an award for bloggers by bloggers. The award recognizes new blogs with great content. The purpose is bloggers supporting other bloggers. This award gives bloggers a voice and encourages more people to interact with us and follow our journeys!

Source- https://www.suewherewhywhat.com/uncatagorized/liebster-award/#:~:text=About%20the%20Liebster%20Award,new%20blogs%20with%20great%20content.

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and provide a link back to their blog so others can find them.
  2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions asked by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Nominate other bloggers (with less than 3,000 followers) and ask them 11 new questions.
  5. Notify the nominees about it by commenting on one of their blog posts.
  6. List the rules and display a Liebster Blogger Award on your post and/ or your blog site.

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I have this process in which I don’t read a new book until at least 24 hours after I’ve finished my last one. I do the same with tv shows. It’s not for any other reason but so that I can bask in the essence of that show/book and just, think about it for the next 24 hours. Maybe you do it too, but everyone around me makes fun of it!
  2. I am actually a published author. I haven’t published a novel but a short story I’d written was published.
  3. I can listen to Adele for hours on end.
  4. I am still trying to find my favorite author because I don’t have one at present. Although I think Khaled Hosseini or Rainbow Rowell are close contenders for the esteemed position.
  5. I love listening to a good podcast.
  6. I was and I guess I still am obsessed with the city of Paris.
  7. Movies which leave me speechless are my favorite kind.
  8. Pasta comes second to sushi on the list of foods which always make me drool.
  9. Although I can sketch well, I’m the worst when it comes painting.
  10. Even if thought-provoking movies are my first choice, I am ever ready to enjoy a good rom-com.
  11. I have some quotes which I often read for inspiration. They help, I don’t know how and I really recommend doing it.

Tall Blonde Tales’ Questions:

  1. What do you enjoy most about blogging? 

The best part about blogging is when I see someone’s comment on one of my posts because I love hearing from readers whether it’s feedback or their views on the topic/book.

2. What is your biggest problem/challenge when it comes to blogging?

I think choosing the right topic every week stands as my biggest challenge. I brainstorm a lot of ideas to come up with the perfect one, which I think my readers would enjoy but I feel strongly about as well.

3. How long does it usually take you to finish a blog post?

I usually have a clear idea of what I want to write before actually sitting down to write it so, it doesn’t take me more than 2 days. Sometimes 3.

4. If you were to name three goals you’d want your blog to achieve in the next year, what would they be?

I want to explore other genres in writing and reading too.

I really hope to reach 100 followers.

I want to develop a rapport with more bloggers.

5. What is the greatest achievement your blog has received? IF you haven’t got any, what would be the achievement you’d want to receive? 

So far, winning the awards has been my greatest achievement.

6. What is your best viewed post? Share it with us by providing a link and a short description about it. 

My best viewed post is Is History Trying to Tell Us Something?. The post is about how we see certain acts and parts of history repeating themselves which is intriguing to see because it seems like a sign rather than coincidence. It’s something I’ve wondered about for a while and I’m thinking of maybe writing another post to elaborate on it!

7. If you were to give out three pieces of advice to yourself as a blogger, what would they be? 

Your passion for writing is why you started a blog and it should always be fun. Don’t ever let it become something you dread doing.

Remain consistent with your blog, be regular with posts and networking.

Some posts won’t do as well as others and that’s okay.

8. Which blog or blogger inspires you the most? 

So, this opinion of mine is constantly changing because I come across a lot of different blogs, but I always look forward to reading Myths of The Mirror and Introverted Thoughts! They write some captivating posts and have inspired me on occasion. Do check them out!

9. What is your favorite thing about being a blogger? 

I think everybody says this but my favorite part is interacting with other bloggers and reading their work. The blogosphere is such a great place and I’ve read and talked to a number of talented and like-minded writers.

10. What are your top blogging tips? 

First and most importantly, don’t underestimate networking and make an effort to interact with others on the blogosphere because it is one of the core things which will help along the way. Nothing works overnight so don’t be discouraged when things are a little slow for you towards the beginning because it will pick up and you’ll be growing in no time! Also, I would give the same advice I gave myself because that’s what keeps you going too.

11. What is the most amazing thing you have ever done? (besides starting your blog)

I’ve been scuba diving, that was really cool and also being published, it’s something I hold pride in.

My Questions for Nominees:

  1. Has COVID-19 and this year in general taught you anything?
  2. What are 3 things you can’t live without?
  3. How did you come up with the name of your blog?
  4. Who is your favorite fictional character?
  5. Which of your posts is your favorite?
  6. What’s a place you want to visit, but have never been?
  7. If you could pick a decade or a year to live in, which would you pick?
  8. Why did you start blogging?
  9. Name a movie that you can watch a million times and never be tired of.
  10. What is a quote that inspires you?
  11. What is the most ridiculous fact you know?

Finally, the Nominees:

The Mind of Litha

The All Nigerian Girl

The Manuscript Maniac

Mad Lad Mindfulness

M’Shasho

Insurgent

I’m so glad I got to do my first awards posts, they were truly so much fun to write. Looking forward to reading my nominees’ posts!

The Mystery Blogger Award

Last week I was nominated for two awards by the amazing Tia from Tall Blonde Tales! Go check her blog out, she writes some great posts which are definitely worth the read! Tia’s been a wonderful blogging peer from the start and I was super excited to be nominated by her. She’s also initiating Blogmas on her blog so check that out too! So, thanks Tia for the nominations. Anyway, I was nominated for the Mystery Blogger and Liebster Award and since I want to focus on both, this will be a two-part awards post. Onto the Mystery Blogger Award!

“The Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.
– Okoto Enigma

Source- https://www.okotoenigmasblog.com/my-greatest-creation-yet/

Rules:

  1. Put the award logo/ image on your blog
  2. List the rules
  3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well
  5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself
  6. Nominate other bloggers of your choice
  7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)
  9. Share a link to your best post(s)

3 things about myself:

  1. I can eat sushi for breakfast everyday if you ask me to.
  2. Sketching is my go-to during writers’ block.
  3. I’m one of those teens who’s crazy about her parents. (I mean, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m one of those rare ones :))

My best posts:

I’ve loved writing all my posts but if I had to pick favorites I think The Bechdel Test: A Call for Representation for it was a topic that I’d spent months thinking about and finally sharing my thoughts on it felt great. In terms of book reviews, I would pick Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee because it was not only an exceptional book which I enjoyed reviewing, but it also featured some of my best writing in my opinion!

Tall Blonde Tales’ Questions:

What have you done this week that made you feel good about yourself? 

Especially this year, anytime I complete the tasks lined up on my to-do list is when I feel the most accomplished. I’m proud to say that I successfully managed to check off everything on my list this week and it sure does feel good.

What were the last 5 emojis you used? 

💜🙈😟😍🤷‍♀

Describe the most embarrassing incident of your life.

Sports and I, don’t exactly get along, but that never stopped me from playing them whenever I got the chance to! So, once some friends asked if I’d like to join them in a game of football. Now, I didn’t and still don’t know how to play. Yet, I agreed and went on to play with utmost confidence- the stars weren’t in my favour. Throughout the game, I scored goals for the other team, kicked the ball off the field and I’m pretty sure ‘the weather’ wasn’t the reason the game ended early. Gosh, even writing about it makes me cringe in embarrassment.

What is your best achievement in blogging till now? 

Undoubtedly, my best achievement has to be being nominated for the awards. I’m so glad I started my blog because I love writing for it and interacting with everyone on the blogosphere. But, the nomination is my best achievement.

[Weird question] If you could switch places with one actor in any scene in any movie/tv show, which would it be?

I would love to be Saoirse Ronan as Jo in Little Women. It’s one of my favorite movies for a lot of reasons- the cast, the plot and it was also the last movie I saw in a theatre before they were closed. Honestly, you can name any of her scenes in the movie and I’d happily switch places.

My Questions for my Nominees:

  1. If you could interview any famous person (a celebrity, an author, a world leader even an activist) who would it be?
  2. What’s the first thing on your bucket list?
  3. What motivated you to start your blog?
  4. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
  5. [Weird Question] Would you rather be in a musical on Broadway or part of an acapella group?

Finally, my Nominees:

Banter Republic

My Healthy and Wealthy Life

Fun With Philosophy

Caffeinated Fae

Yuvi’s Buzz

My One Penny Wisdom

I enjoyed writing this awards post and can’t wait to read my nominees’ answers to my questions, and learn more about them as well!

Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

The Song of Achilles is a historical fiction that features the retelling of the story of one of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology: Achilles from the point of view of his most ardent admirer, Patroclus. If you’re familiar with Homer’s ‘Illiad’, you probably know of Achilles and Patroclus. Achilles- the prophesied warrior, best of the Greeks and a man who was idolized throughout his life. Patroclus- quite the opposite, an exile who was mostly deemed a coward because he abhorred the battlefield. There’s not much mythology tells us about Patroclus. I think the situation is so because he wasn’t a warrior, and lived in a society which then revolved around war, regarding any other qualities in a man insignificant. But Patroclus never wanted to be in the spotlight. We see how in the book too, he hardly draws any attention to himself.

I was skeptical about reading this book at first, having never been too fond of Achilles according to what I’d read about him. But Patroclus’ narration is such a refreshing perspective that it changed the way I saw Achilles, it even made me feel sorry for him. Mythology only saw Achilles as a fearless, skilled warrior and a ruthless savior. But Patroclus saw him as more than that. He knew Achilles before anyone cared about him. While most stories only talk about Achilles during the Trojan War, this book begins when he was still a child. When Patroclus was first exiled to Phthia, the kingdom of which Achilles was prince.

Patroclus loved him for many reasons. Achilles befriended him when nobody would, he always said what he meant. While others longed for that twisted game they called honour- he didn’t care about it. He pushed Patroclus to embrace himself for who he was. The book names countless other reasons as to why he stuck by him and they’ve been expressed almost poetically to the extent that I wanted to read them again and again. One of the biggest things I realized from reading this is that Patroclus shaped Achilles to be who he was during the Trojan War. It seemed like he was not only his confidante but conscience, shaping his actions and making him the hero everyone loved. Without Patroclus, Achilles would’ve been lost, and he was.

I was curious to see how the story would move along after Patroclus’ death. According to the Illiad, revenge for Patroclus’ death was the reason Achilles went on a killing spree and ultimately ended the Trojan War. The last few chapters of the book are heartbreaking, when Patroclus watches Achilles as a spirit, begging him to stop. The Illiad’s focus on the Trojan War was to show the loss, grief, and suffering war causes. The Song of Achilles also highlights the same because the Trojan War changed Achilles and Patroclus’ lives. The two were unwilling to go in the first place.

After I read this, I wondered why classics like the Illiad and stories of heroes like Achilles and the world he lived in, are still relevant today? But that could be asked of any classic or epic. Maybe it’s because they gave rise to ideas which we continue to value today, or love stories and figures we can still idolize. For instance, Patroclus’ longing to fit in, how the Greeks would do anything to maintain their honour and pride, their belief in togetherness and numbers, wars over differences. I can’t figure out if that’s the world refusing to learn from history or just the way it’s meant to be.

Final thoughts~ I love that the author sheds light on storylines and characters which are mostly ignored in the classics. They add a new perspective instead of the monotonous ones. Instead of descriptions of the battlefield and bloodshed we get to read about the atmosphere on the sidelines, where wives and workers anxiously waited for the war to end. I strongly suggest this book even if you’re unfamiliar with Greek mythology because the author provides sufficient background.

“Some men gain glory after they die, while others fade. What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another. We cannot say who will survive the holocaust of memory. Who knows?”

                                                                        -Madeline Miller, The Song of Achilles.

OTHER REVIEWS OF THE BOOK:

Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles- Book Review

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller