My Review of Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – 5 Stars

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Information from Goodreads:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

Hardcover, 349 pagesPublished April 14th 2011 by Viking Children’s

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My Rating: 5 Stars

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My Review of Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor

5/5 stars

Once again Nnedi Okorafor did not fail to impress. I’m pretty sure I read on her page that a movie or show is in the works for this book and I’m excited to see it manifested.

“It’s just an insect specter,” Orlu said as he touched the sting with his knife. He made a popping sound with his lips. “They’re the result of insects people smash. Most angry spirits come from deaths by acts of cruelty. If the insect is angry or a vengeful type, it’ll return as one of these.” Slowly the feeling in her legs returned. The bruise on her hip from falling remained, though.

This is a really interesting book with engaging, dynamic characters that easily stand out from each other. This series might well be described as a more diverse, unique, and perhaps grounded Harry Potter in that we’ve got a group of kids, some of whom are already aware of “magic”, one who is not. They are sent to attend “magic school” all while still leading their “regular” lives. No offense to the Harry Potter series but this story isn’t about your typical idea of magic. A person’s ability is often unique to them or something they’ve inherited from a relative. I love the idea that what might be a disadvantage or flaw in the “lamb” world translates into an ability among Leopard People. It’s beautiful.

This story is easy to read, well-paced, and original. It’s fantastic and feels true to life even as it’s set in a country, continent and culture I do not know. I’m grateful for this opportunity to read a story set in Nigeria flavored with fantasy. We all know one of the beauties of reading is being able to travel outside of our own lives, this book delivers on that in SO MANY ways.

“Lesson one, ” Anatov said. “And this is for all of you. Learn how to learn. Read between the lines. Know what to take and what to discard. Sunny, we don’t teach as the Lambs do. Books will be part of your learning but experience is important, too. You’ll all be sent out to see for yourselves. So you have to know how to learn…”

There is violence, but it’s not overwhelming . I think it’s comparable to a PG-13 movie, mind you I don’t read a lot of books of this age-range so I might not be the best judge. That said my 12-year old niece isn’t big on scary or violent stories/movies but I think I will recommend this to her nonetheless. The main characters are 13-14 years old. Nnedi gives these characters energy and attitude true to children. Sunny, the main protagonist and a new student of the Leopard world, is a spunky, sassy girl who is understandably nervous but brave. She’s bullied for being albino but she remains strong and stands up for herself even though at times it hurts to feel like an outsider.

Okorafor is good at tapping into the characters’ emotions and not forgetting those seemingly small moments of emotional pain, young and old. You’ll also find some great lessons woven into these pages.

“Sunny, there are Leopard People all over the world from every tribe, race, whatever. None is better than the other.”

I will continue to make my way through her work moving right along to Akata Warrior, #2 in this duology. I strongly recommend reading this book and more of Nnedi Okorafor. If you haven’t yet branched out to more diverse authors, Nnedi Okorafor’s books are a great place to start for the fantasy/sci-fi genres.

“Let me tell you something Chichi and Sasha have a hard time respecting,” Orlu said, putting his fork down. “Leopard People – all our kind all over the world – are not like Lambs. Lambs think money and material things are the most important thing in the world. You can cheat, lie, steal, kill, be dumb as a rock, but if you can brag about money and having lots of things and your bragging is true, that bypasses everything. Money and material things make you king or queen of the Lamb world. You can do no wrong, you can do anything.

Leopard People are different. The only way you can earn chittim is by learning. The more you learn, the more chittim you earn. Knowledge is the center of all things…”

From Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1)

The following are more quotes from the book that are listed and liked on Goodreads:

“People are too focused on money. It’s supposed to be a tool, not the prize to be won.”

“They’re capable of great things, but potential doesn’t equal success.”

“We embrace those things that make us unique or odd. For only in these things can we locate and then develop our most individual abilities.”

We’re going through some truly incredible times in the world right now. Sometimes I feel like we should have expected 2020 to be different. I mean, 2020 right? Gosh… The change we are experiencing is profound and much of it overdo. I am proud of those standing up against injustice. I am proud of those standing up for science and the good of the community. I am proud of all the brave people exercising their courage in the face of fear. I am so proud of all the people embracing each other, coming together, and demanding a better world for everyone. People are showing each other that hate has no place among us.

In the midst of all of this, many of us are wondering what can I do? How can I help? Maybe you’re marching, maybe you’re not, but you want to know how you can be a part of the change and help to usher it forward. One way we can do this is to continue to support each other and to support communities of color. We can help by investing in communities of color; this in part means supporting the work done by people of color, and the businesses, the arts, and the efforts among so many other things. In the bookish world, the art world, we do this by buying books by and about people of color. We do this by talking about their books and stories, telling our friends and family, our neighborhoods, our social media-hoods. We can help by promoting more diversity in the arts. Don’t have many or any authors of color on your TBR? Well now is as good a time as ever to branch out. And when you find those authors you enjoyed, spread their name far and wide. Encourage others to read their work. Then find more and share more. Read non-fiction and fiction by and about people and communities of color. Read books that take place in a community, neighborhood or region unlike yours.

We in the bookish community already love to read, so let’s be super intentional in what we pick (if you’re not already doing this) and make sure you pick up books, more books by and about people of color. In fact, I have an idea, get this book and others by this author! 😉

From Goodread’s author bio:

Nnedi Okorafor is a Nigerian-American author of African-based science fiction and fantasy (Africanfuturism and Africanjujuism). Okorafor has won a Hugo, a Nebula, a World Fantasy Award, and a Locus Award, and her many fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. She is writing a series for Marvel about Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, and has a number of book-based projects in development for film and TV – including HBO’s adaptation of her novel Who Fears Death, with George R. R. Martin signed on as executive producer. Okorafor is also co-writing the screenplay of an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed with filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu for Amazon Prime Video, with Viola Davis producing. Her novel Akata Warrior (of the Akata Series) is the winner of the Lodestar and Locus Award for Best Young Adult Novel.

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/588356.Nnedi_Okorafor

The above link will take you to her Goodreads’ bio page but THIS LINK will take you to her website.

You can CLICK HERE to read my review of Lagoon, a sci-fi/fantasy, first contact book by this author. Another five star read in my humble opinion.

You can also CLICK HERE for my review of Binti, an awesome sci-fi novella, the first of 3 books I shamefully have yet to finish! (But I will. 😉 )

And I will be re-reading (one of these days) The Book Of Phoenix (Who Fears Death, #0.5). I want to refresh my experience with this book as I read it at least a couple years ago but have since become a big fan of this author.

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Rest assured I will continue to work my way through her books. Today I start Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2).

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Have you read any of her work? Have you heard of these books or her? What did you think? Don’t be afraid to express your opinion. Have you read any I have yet to read? What other authors of color would you recommend we read? I encourage you to share. In the coming week I hope to put together a post about authors of color in an effort to help promote and support their work. Some will be authors I’ve read, some I plan to read but have heard great things about. I would also like to include suggestions from others such as yourself. I plan to link to some great posts with similar lists by other book bloggers.

So let’s as a bookish community come together and show our support for authors and communities of color by promoting their work far and wide.

Black Lives Matter.

Lessons Learned While Writing

Let me be real, writing a book is not an easy task. You don’t just sit down and write the story in your head. Sure that’s how you start but a lot happens in the midst of doing that. Your characters will teach you that what you thought about them was wrong.

Here are some other things I’ve learned while writing my first novel:
  • New characters are going to show up whether you invite them or not. And when they show up don’t try and shoo them away, you have to at least listen to what they have to offer.
  • Face it, you are going to write A LOT of words that are not going to make it into the finished book.
  • The above fact is something you have to accept and get over. Move on, don’t look back. Unless you’re like me and copy and paste some of that stuff into a different folder in hopes of using it in other works at a later date.
  • There are going to be too many days during which you can’t muster up the interest to even look at your story. You’re going to be frustrated and disappointed and even lost. Writing a book is not like butter; it doesn’t soften and get easier to spread if you just leave it out.
  • BUT despite the above bullet point, you have to continue your work. There are few parts of life that are only ever pleasant, but we push on. We persevere. Writers get over these humps and back to the story. I keep reminding myself that right now I just need to get the story out. One foot in front of the other; one word after the other.
  • What you start with is likely to change. Period.
  • Don’t get hung up on names. It’s okay to use a stand in name for a character so you can keep writing. The same goes for your title. Just get to writing and worry about such details later.
  • Be humble enough to admit you’re making excuses. Yes, sometimes I avoid writing because I don’t know what comes next. Sometimes I need a break. But, saying I just haven’t had time might be true sometimes but if I’m honest, I could make time to get it done. Be real with yourself about what you’re doing.
  • It is okay if your first draft is crummy. Keep writing.
  • Write your story, not what you think the market wants.
  • Remember that crafting a story takes many forms. Brainstorming, building character profiles, story-mapping, world-building, creating backgrounds, etc are all part of your writing. So give yourself credit for doing these things, they count. Don’t hesitate to do them if you’re not and you’re focused only on writing words.
  • Do Not expect to include all of the above in your story. Some of what you write is just for you and your work. Putting all the background you’ve gathered in your book is likely to exhaust your reader. Wouldn’t you say from your experience that this is true?
  • Write with your own voice but know that reading books is part of studying the craft. Learn how to read in a way that teaches you, benefits your writing, and builds your knowledge of the craft. This month I’ll be reading The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark. I thank fellow blogger Charli Mills at The Carrot Ranch Dynamic Literary Community for suggesting this book to me.

While this list is in no way exhaustive (I’m always learning more), these are some of the things I think important to keep in mind while writing.

If you are a writer and want to share some of the things you’ve learned from writing please do! I love comments! Thanks for reading.

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20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge

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Image thanks to 746 Books

Today marks the 1st day not only of June but of the 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge! I learned of this challenge over at Fictionophile’s blog. Thank you so much! I understand this is not the first of this summer challenge but it’s certainly the first time it’s sounded so cool! 😉

I’ve never done this challenge, nor do I expect to complete it. However with my new (as of last year) habit of listening to audio books I think I will get closer to finishing than not. Regardless, I will give it a shot, and my best shot! My list – which follows the rules and link to the creator – will include audio books, physical books, e-books, non-fiction and fiction. This feels like a great challenge and I’m excited to try. I am going to include the books I’m currently reading…cheat or not I’m gonna do it!

This challenge 20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge – is brought to us thanks to Cathy at 746books.com.

The Rules:

Visit Cathy’s blog at 746books.com and grab the 20 Books of Summer image (seen above). Next pick your own 20 books you would like to read. Then link back to her Master post from 1 June to let her know that you are taking part.  When you visit her site you’ll see that she offers images for 15 & 10 Books of Summer as well. I like the sound of 20 of 20 so I’m going for that (even if 15 or 10 would be guaranteed success(HA!)). She would love to hear about your participation so be sure to skip on over!

(By the way, I’m super excited about being able to pick my own 20 books!)

She also urges us to follow along with the #20booksofsummer20 hashtag, and tweet along on Twitter there if you do that.

The challenge starts off on Monday 1 June and finishes on Tuesday 1 September.

Let’s go!

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20 Books of Summer 20 Reading Challenge: My Books

Here is my list of 20 books I hope to finish by September 1, 2020. They will include fiction, non-fiction, a lot of different genres, audio and physical books, AND the books I’m currently read. (Well they are still books that I’ll finish in the time frame. 😉 ). They are in no particular order other than the ones at the top (as noted) are currently being read.

If you decide to do this challenge – yeah let’s do it! – I would so love it if in addition to linking to the creator you link back here as I would love to read along with you and hear how you’re doing. 🙂 Don’t forget 10, 15 or however many books is also an option!

Currently Reading

The Name of All Things (A Chorus of Dragons, #2) by Jenn Lyons – audio book, epic fantasy

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Akata Witch (Akata Witch, #1) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy

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Kind of Coping: An Illustrated Look at Life with Anxiety by Maureen Marzi Wilson – hardcover, non-fiction, sequential art (graphic novel but non-ficiton?)

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Thick: And Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom – hardcover, non-fiction

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The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman – paperback, non-fiction

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Voyage of the Basilisk (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #3) by Marie Brennan – paperback, fantasy

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Non-Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

The Art of X-Ray Reading by Roy Peter Clark – hardcover, non-fiction

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Story Physics: Harnessing the Underlying Forces of Storytelling by Larry Brooks – paperback, non-fiction

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Birds Art Life: A Year of Observation by Kyo Maclear – hardcover, non-fiction

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Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to Be Grateful for Michelle Obama by Nicholas Haramis (editor) – hardcover, non-fiction – **In case you’re wondering why this and not Becoming (her memoir, which I want to read), because I bought this before Becoming was written

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King – paperback, non-fiction, memoir

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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah – audio book, non-fiction, memoir

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Fiction Books I Hope to Read for this Challenge

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch, #2) by Nnedi Okorafor – hardcover, fantasy, YA

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A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy

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A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic, #2) by V.E. Schwab – paperback, fantasy ***I will read #3 as I have the box set, just not priority for summer

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Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2) by Sue Burke – hardcover, sci-fi/fantasy, first encounter

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Race the Sands by Sarah Beth Durst – audio book, fantasy

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Bluebird, Bluebird (Highway 59, #1) by Attica Locke – audio book, mystery, thriller

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The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow – audio book, fantasy

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The Ice House (The Honours, #2) by Tim Clare – kindle e-book, fantasy

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Bonus Book

The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow, #1) by Kalyn Josephsonversion undecided audio or physical?

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This list is subject to change. 🙂 Especially the audio book side of things. Creating this list makes me think I could really complete this challenge! (Lol, smh…)

It never ceases to excite and disappoint me when I make book lists. Why disappointment you ask? Because this list feels so incomplete! There’s a bookshelf in front of me as I type and to think I will barely touch the TBR books on that shelf…wow.

Alas, my own book is most important. However as I write reading provides a good break from writing when I need it, and a place from which I can learn because books are my craft.

Now, your turn…

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