Book Review: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

“When we stand before God on the last day, will he ask whether we went to university?” ― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

I came across this book at the beginning of 2016. Not sure why but it had so many good reviews and mentions in January.At some point, it seemed as if everyone in Kenya was reading and talking about The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives. My Book Club also caught the fever and like everyone else, they too recommended the book. Naturally, curiosity got the better of me and I had to check it out. Last weekend, with six hours on the road, I finally got a chance to read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

“A real woman must always do the things she wants to do, and in her own time too. You must never allow yourself to be rushed into doing things you’re not ready for.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives


The story is about The Aloas, a polygamous family in Ibadan. Baba Segi, the head of the family, is rich but illiterate (and quite flatulent). Iya Segi, Iya Femi, Iya Tope and Bolanle are his four wives. The three wives have given Baba Segis seven children and to him, this is an accomplishment that he openly brags about. The ability to have many children is a validation of his manhood. His fourth wife, Bolanle is the only graduate in Baba Segi’s semi-illiterate family. She is also the only wife does not yet have a child, a fact that bothers Baba Segi. Bolanle is hated by the other wives due to the fact that she is different. They also detest the fact that Baba Segi is proud of his ‘graduate’ wife and treats her like a trophy. This odium leads them to take drastic measures to try and get her out of their home.


“Men are so simple. They will believe anything.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin is full of humor. The language used is simple but quite raw (uncensored). Although, the story is told by multi-narrators, it is easy to follow the witty narration. The story has everything from jealously, lust, anger and love. Its characters are also quite memorable. All this make it a very fascinating read.

“The choices we have to make in this world are hard and bitter. Sometimes we have no choices at all.”
― Lola Shoneyin, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The big twist in the story is revealed during the quest to solve the mystery behind Bolanle’s bareness. I must admit, the twist was really good. I never saw it coming. It’s the kind of twist that will make you pause to relish in just how good the story before you continue reading.

I recommend this book to every looking for a good, simple book with an easy flow. All fans of African Literature should also read The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin.

Book Review: The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy

These are star-crossed travelers who take each other’s bags by mistake, only to learn that when you unlock a stranger’s suitcase you enter a stranger’s life; the house-sitter who moves into her client’s life as well as her home; a holiday for four in Greece which has surprising consequences; and the chance encounter at an airport which unites an unlikely group of people. Full of love, loss, revelations and reconciliation, this enchanting collection shows Maeve Binchy at the height of her powers.

The Return Journey

I know a couple of fans of Maeve Binchy’s work and so when I came across one of her books, I had to read it and see what the fuss was all about. The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy is a collection of short stories on the theme of travel and vacation. When I picked the book, I didn’t know that it was a short stories collection. However, I still got lost in the pages, reading each story to the end.

There are different angles in each story. For instance, my favorite one was ‘ The Wrong Suitcase’ which is about two travelers who ended up swapping suitcases and so they had to open each other’s suitcase to find information on how to exchange the suitcases. It’s what they find in the suitcases that shapes their opinions about each other. There are a couple of other stories about people who find love and friendship during vacations. There are also stories of people who venture out of their normal routines to go on vacations.

All stories are heartwarming and I found myself smiling as I read them. Maeve Binchy does a great job of taking readers to each vacation and into the lives of the characters. The stories made me long for my own vacation. I wish I could  move to Italy and work in a restaurant like one of the characters.

If you are looking for a light, fun read, then you should definitely get The Return Journey by Maeve Binchy. This would also make a great read on vacation(Easter holiday is coming up). I don’t know whether all Maeve Binchy books are short stories collections but I do look forward to reading more from her and finding out. Do let me know if you have any recommendations on other Maeve Binchy books that I should check out.

Book Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

“My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered.”
― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold has a number of good reviews online. I became interested in the book after reading reviews that compared it to Room by Emma Donoghue.  I can’t even explain  how excited I was when I stumbled upon a copy of the book at the library at my workplace.

Bones 3
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is narrated by a 14 year old girl who was raped and murdered. Susie is now in heaven  where she is watching events unfold on earth as people try to move on after her death. The book starts out really well and I was hooked right from the first page. Susie has such a strong and compelling voice as a posthumous narrator. I held my breath whenever she talked of Mr. Harvey who killed her and her family’s attempts to get justice for her. I kept hoping that the killer gets caught. My heart also broke for Susie whose life was cut short at such a young age before she had a chance to really experience life. It was heartbreaking to read about her longing as she watched the boy who once kissed her. It was also sad to read about how she was struggling with letting go of her family especially when she watched them struggle with their grief over losing her.

“When the dead are done with the living, the living can go on to other things,” Franny said. “What about the dead?” I asked. “Where do we go?”
― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

I loved the description of heaven whereby everyone has their own heaven which matches exactly what they want. It got me thinking about life after death and what heaven is like. I also loved the narration whereby being in heaven, Susie was able to observe different character’s lives and thoughts and so as readers, we found out what was happening immediately she saw something.

“His love for my mother wasn’t about looking back and loving something that would never change. It was about loving my mother for everything — for her brokenness and her fleeing, for her being there right then in that moment before the sun rose and the hospital staff came in. It was about touching that hair with the side of his fingertip, and knowing yet plumbing fearlessly the depths of her ocean eyes.”
― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

At some point, I felt as if the story was way dragged out. There were pages that I rushed through, trying to see if anything was happening. Maybe this came from wanting to see if the killer ever got caught but whatever it was, I grew impatient reading through some sections of the book.

Apart from that, I enjoyed The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. The author took a number of risks that paid off. For instance; the narrator is killed right at the start of the narration. The identity of the killer is then revealed just as fast. However, this does not take away the suspense. The book was also quite moving; it made me think about life after death and especially about what happens to those who are no longer on earth with us.Are they out there watching us?


Book Review: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is the kind of book that stays with you long after you turn the last page. It is one of the best books that I have ever read. This book reminded me of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, another book that I enjoyed immensely.

The Help 2.jpg
The setting of the book is Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s, an era that was marked with racial segregation. The story is told from the perspective of three women. Aibleen and Minny are colored house helps working for white families in the town. These women are as different as any two people can be. Aibleen has a gentle and regal personality, she is also proud of having raised seventeen white children. She is currently working for Miss Leefold and taking care of her daughter, Mae Mobley. However, something changed in Aibleen after her only son dies.

“That’s the way prayer do. It’s like electricity, it keeps things going.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Minny on the other hand is hotheaded and sassy hence can’t seem to keep any job. She is revered as being an excellent cook but her mouth always seems to get her into trouble. Minny struggles to find a job until Aibleen gets her job working as a maid for someone new in town, someone who doesn’t know her reputation.
Skeeter is a white woman who dreams of being a writer. She is the only one from her race who seems to sympathize with the plight of the colored helps in the town. Skeeter was raised by a black maid, Constantine, who mysteriously disappeared. All efforts to find out what happened to Constantine seem fruitless as nobody seems willing to talk to her about it. The three remarkable women embark on a dangerous clandestine project that could change things in Jackson. However, the project also puts them in grave danger in a town marred by racial tensions.

“Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision. You gone have to ask yourself, “Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stocket has an easy flow and the shift between the three perspectives is well paced hence not confusing. The dialect used the book is in line with the characters and the setting and it didn’t throw me off at all. Good Law, I be honest and just admit that Diana done downright loved it!


“Mississippi is like my mother. I am allowed to complain about her all I want, but God help the person who raises an ill word about her around me, unless she is their mother too.”
― Kathryn Stockett, The Help

This book has both sad and happy moments that make the characters easy to relate with. Although, a work of fiction, The Help is a historical but timeless masterpiece that will make readers take another look at the way they treat their helps. This book also takes readers back to the tumultuous time in history that shaped the world we live in today.

Book Review:Never Seduce a Sheikh by Jackie Ashenden

This is not my usual kind of book. I used to read historical romance, Mills and Boons and all kinds of Harlequin Romance in high school. As students, we would read the books secretly concealing the covers from the prying eyes of the teachers. It was exciting, something forbidden and as a teenager, a great way to rebel and learn about a world that  we weren’t supposed to know about.

Anyway, I digress.

I found Never Seduce a Sheikh by Jackie Ashenden and decided to read it simply because it had an interesting title and the book cover was… ahem… beautiful.


How deep into the darkness will she have to go to help bring him into the light?
Oil baronness Lily Harkness isn’t so much steel magnolia as titanium cactus. She’s used to living in a man’s world and when she plays, she plays to win. She wants exclusive oil rights to ensure her company remains at the top and she’s not walking away empty handed.
Sheikh Isma’il al Zahara rules his country his way. Always in command, he has his own plans for his country’s oil and it’s not just about the money. But he’s intrigued by the buttoned up business woman who’s come to his country to strike a deal. He can’t help but wonder what’s beneath her icy facade.
Lily’s desires are buried down deep, but her attraction to Isma’il is too strong to deny. Will seducing the sheikh cost Lily her body and her soul?

As I said, the title of the book is what drew me to it. I was also intrigued by the fact that the male protagonist was a Sheikh.

arabian men

I imagined that the Sheikh looked like this guy who was once allegedly  accused of being ‘too handsome’

I am curious about Arab royalty and  hence was interested in the setting of the story, hoping to get nuances of the Arabian Culture. Well, Jackie Ashenden portrays the culture brilliantly in this book.At some point, I found myself in the Arabian desert where beautiful women wear flowing dresses and gold ornaments and belly dance and the men are dark and handsome in their white robes.

beautiful images

I found this image online.I also imagine that the Arabian culture is exotic and simply beautiful.

From the book’s synopsis, it’s clear to see the struggles of Lily and Ismail. However, I’m not sure if it’s the case with all romance novels but the plot of this story  was too simplified, I felt that it lacked depth. For instance, the resolution of the conflicts that Lily and Ismail experienced was sort of rushed through. In addition, the third person narration made me feel like I was watching events unfold from the outside, not really connecting with the characters.
This was an easy, light read. As I said, it’s not really my type of book but still, it was fun to read so you should check it out(especially if you liked 50 Shades of Gray and enjoy romance novels). I look forward to reading more books from Jackie Ashenden but perhaps something a bit different from this one.