Nigerian Godpunk

David Mogo, Godhunter
by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A new take on classic Urban Fantasy—Godpunk? 

Gods have rained down on Lagos, the capital of Nigeria. We enter the story some time later, into the dystopian society that has developed here in the aftermath. David Mogo, our 1st person narrator, is a demi-god working as an illegal godhunter. An old wizard with dubious morals sends David Mogo off to catch two high gods, Taiwo and Kehinde. David is in need of money to fix his roof, so off he goes, despite his misgivings about this wizard. Obviously things don’t go as expected. 

This was the first part in a book that reads like three novellas collected in one volume, with a red thread running through them and each connected closely in terms of time, location and characters. Enjoyable, even though I never really connected with David Mogo on an emotional level.

I looked up a lot about Nigeria, the orishas, Nigerian Pidgin, a lot of vocabulary, food items, clothing styles, etc. Then I was looking up info about Lagos, Victoria Island, Makoko, and, and, and… all this kept slowing down my reading speed, as I kept going off on tangents and looking something up almost constantly… My kind of fun!

I struggled a bit with the Nigerian Pidgin used in some of the dialogues, but decided to just go with it — I hope I managed to get the gist of the conversations. 

Interesting article in the Guardian about the floating city of Makoko:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/20…

Bottomline: I had fun, my imagination got engaged, I learned a lot of new things, I enjoyed the writing. I would read more by this author.


Part of my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. I read this for the March prompt, „A Work of Fiction“. 

Post about the March prompt: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…
Main challenge: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

From the author‘s website: (slightly amended)
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and other speculative works inspired by his West-African origins. His new epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic, is forthcoming from Orbit, beginning in May 2021 with Son of the Storm. His highly-anticipated debut, the godpunk fantasy novel David Mogo, Godhunter, won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Speculative Novel by an African. Learn more at suyidavies.com.

I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

First Line Friday, Welcome to Lagos…

First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab your nearest book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.


I just started reading…

David Mogo, Godhunter
by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

This is going to be a bad job. I know it from the angular smile of the wizard-ruler seated before me.

first lines

Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of fantasy, science fiction and other speculative works inspired by his West-African origins. His new epic fantasy trilogy, The Nameless Republic, is forthcoming from Orbit, beginning in May 2021 with Son of the Storm. His highly-anticipated debut, the godpunk fantasy novel David Mogo, Godhunter (Abaddon, 2019), won the 2020 Nommo Ilube Award for Best Speculative Novel by an African. Learn more at suyidavies.com.

from the author‘s website

I can‘t say much yet about the book, as I have only read a few pages so far.

More about the African Speculative Fiction Society and the Nommos here. I didn‘t know about the Nommos and I am quite pleased to have discovered them.


I received this free e-copy from the publisher/author via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review, thank you!
Full review to come.

Fiction By Authors of Color #ReadPOC2021

Ok, my March #ReadPOC challenge was a total fail, aka I didn‘t get to it… what can I say, I was overbooked and struggling a bit to concentrate on my reading commitments. The March prompt was „A Work of Fiction“ and after some deliberation I picked David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa.

Nigerian God-Punk – a powerful and atmospheric urban fantasy set in Lagos.

New attempt in April! I hope… which brings along the April prompt: Written by a Queer or Trans Author of Color.

And to my surprise, I found two books on the suggested reading lists, that ring a bell:

1) Dawn (Lilith’s Brood, #1) by Octavia E. Butler — this one is on my kindle-unlimited want-to-read list. I will try to read it in April. After the above and all the other stuff. I am an optimist.

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation and begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet.

2) The Black Tides of Heaven (Tensorate, #1) by J.Y. Yang — read in January 2019

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This is fantasy novella with a strong chinese flavour. The author identifies as non-binary and the main characters as well, at least until they reach their teenage years…

“Sonami had just turned fifteen, yet still wore the genderfree tunic of a child, their hair cropped to a small square at the top of their head and gathered into a bun.“

It is strange at first, then becomes normal and when eventually gendered pronouns crop up, they seem just as strange. Well done! I wasn‘t sure I would like this, because my track record with fantasy has been poor in the past few years. But once the story picked up speed, I found it hard to put down. The writing and plot were also a lot more accessible than I had expected. I really need to read the companion novellas. Plan B, if I shouldn‘t feel like Octavia Butler or want to read something shorter!

Author‘s website with info about the whole Tensorate series is here

Main Challenge page: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

Fiction By Authors of Color #ReadPOC2021

New month, new choices… The March prompt is „A Work of Fiction“. These books are on my want-to-read shelf and fit the prompt, in no particular order:

Do you have a preference, which book you want me to read and review? Raise of hands, please! 🤚

UPDATE:

  1. David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, UF — 2 votes (1 here, 1 offsite)
  2. Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Fantasy/SF — 1 vote

Challenge: https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…

January: Bloodchild — Becoming — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2020/1…
February: The Story of Human Language — https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2021/0…

Why we talk the way we do…

The Story of Human Language
by John McWhorter

Rating: 4 out of 5.

With some recommendations I stumbled across this book on human language from The Great Courses. This is an audiobook, aka the lecture series by the author.

Here is what it‘s all about:

There are 6,000 languages in the world, in so much variety that many languages would leave English speakers wondering just how a human being could possibly learn and use them.

From the scope of the book / pdf supplement of the audio

The first two lectures were What Is Language? and When Language Began. By the sound of it this seem to be actual lectures. There are reactions from the audience and clapping. It makes for a different listening experience than listening to a professionally narrated book. The author, aka lecturer, is a proficient and coherent speaker. However, the experience is a bit more organic than usual.

The part about Chomsky in the second lecture was new to me and the notion that humans are somehow programmed to speak sounded logical to me. The other side of that argument is, that language develops based on external influences. Here we open the door to philosophical debate. I am benching that one for my next non-fiction book…

The basis of Chomsky’s linguistic theory lies in biolinguistics, the linguistic school that holds that the principles underpinning the structure of language are biologically preset in the human mind and hence genetically inherited.

Accordingly, Chomsky argues that language is a unique evolutionary development of the human species and distinguished from modes of communication used by any other animal species.

Wikipedia about Chomsky

Lecture 3: How Language Changes—Sound Change talks about the great vowel shift — I opened the pdf, that came with the audio. It‘s not the full text, more of a summary, but still… reading along and looking at some of the examples in writing is very helpful. Pretty cool, actually, how vowels and consonants changed over time. That word, „cool“, had a vowel shift, btw…

I won‘t bore you with summaries of every single lecture, suffice to say that the author covers a vast amount of linguistic topics. I spaced out a bit during the many chapters on dialects.

The author‘s casual dismissal of places and people outside of the US was a bit irritating at times. I think he was trying to be funny, with middling success. 

Lecture 26: Does Culture Drive Language Change? presents…

a hypothesis that our ways of processing the world are channeled by the structure of our language. This has been called the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.

That has always been a really fascinating concept for me. German, language of thinkers and poets, etc. Based on this audiobook course and other sources I looked at over time, this does not seem to hold true. The language you think in or the grammar you use do not seem to shape how you think and do not seem to be influenced by the culture you live in. Although it has never been proven, the idea doesn‘t seem to be going away.

In the chapters after that one we learned about Pidgin and Creole. There is a difference! I did not know that. And I learned a lot more about it that I really cared for. However, a lot of that was grounding for Lecture 32: What Is Black English?Fascinating connection to British English!

Everything was rounded off with a master class, to extrapolate on everything we learned throughout the course.

It was interesting, even with some bits in between that dragged a bit. The accompanying pdf was open most of the time, while I listened to the lectures and served a bit as a blackboard for the lecturer. Good enough to consider further offerings by The Great Courses.


Some of the recommended reading:


This was part of my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. The February prompt is „scientist“.

The March prompt is „A Work of Fiction“. These are on my want-to-read shelf and fit the prompt, in no particular order:

  • The Black Parade by Kyoko M., UF, reviews are mixed
  • The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson, horror/SF, novella
  • Jade City by Fonda Lee, UF
  • Rosewater by Tade Thompson, SF
  • David Mogo, Godhunter by Suyi Davies Okungbowa, UF
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, Fantasy/SF

About language, a small island and a brief hop to Africa…

Yesterday I posted about my current audiobook read, The Story of Human Language (Audible Audio). The pdf includes Essential Reading at the end of every chapter. And at the end of lecture 3, How Language Changes—Sound Change, to my surprise, a book is listed that I have actually read!

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In this hymn to the mother tongue Bill Bryson examines how a language treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants has now become the undisputed global language.

Written with his usual humour, Bill Bryson tells you everything you ever wanted to know about how the English language came to be what it is today. Funny and informative, but sometimes he gets a bit carried away. 17 pages on spelling is just a bit excessive.

Bryson is another author that I want to revisit.

Another book about the topics of the English language that has been lingering on my TBR pile for quite some time:

The Queen’s English: And How to Use It 
by Bernard C. Lamb

What is good English, and why do we need it? “The Queen’s English” shows how the English language, used properly, has great power to instruct, move and entertain people, but used incorrectly, can lead to a lack of clarity and confusion. This book informs in a light-hearted way, reminding readers how to use the basics of grammar, punctuation and spelling, as well as further teaching them new tips and tricks of style, rhetoric and vocabulary. The book also shows the perils of using language incorrectly, offering extremely (if unintentionally) humorous examples of where bad English can cause one thing to mean something entirely different!

From the book blurb

Maybe I will manage to get to this book in 2021! It‘s been on my shelf for nine years, which is the reason why I added it to my TBR Bingo card!


Talking about Bill Bryson, these are the two books of his that I have read… I could swear there was more, but I am not sure what book it was — maybe In a Sunburned Country?

Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I laughed myself silly when I read this. Which was quite a while ago, in the mid-to-late 1990s, whilst living in London. Reading it on the tube quite often, no less… That‘s pretty much all I remember.

Bill Bryson’s African Diary
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Nice little book, a very brief read. The usual Bill Bryson humour shows through a little, but it’s really only a teensy-weensy bite in between.

First Line Fridays, #ReadPOC2021, Human Language

I decided to listen to another audiobook for my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. The prompt for February will be „scientist“. I posted about this already, it was really hard to find an author and book that interest me. However, with some recommendations I eventually stumbled across this book on human language from The Great Courses:

The Story of Human Language (Audible Audio)
by John McWhorter

Here is what it‘s all about:

There are 6,000 languages in the world, in so much variety that many languages would leave English speakers wondering just how a human being could possibly learn and use them.

From the scope of the book / pdf supplement of the audio

I listened to the first two lectures already, What Is Language? and When Language Began. By the sound of it this seem to be actual lectures, held by the author. There are reactions from the audience and clapping. It makes for a different listening experience than listening to a professionally narrated book. The author, aka lecturer, is a proficient and coherent speaker. However, the experience is a bit more organic than usual.

The part about Chomsky in the second lecture was new to me and the notion that humans are somehow programmed to speak makes sense to me.

The basis of Chomsky’s linguistic theory lies in biolinguistics, the linguistic school that holds that the principles underpinning the structure of language are biologically preset in the human mind and hence genetically inherited.

Accordingly, Chomsky argues that language is a unique evolutionary development of the human species and distinguished from modes of communication used by any other animal species.

Wikipedia about Chomsky

So far, so interesting. We‘ll see if I‘ll manage to work my way through 36 lectures.


First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab a book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.

What is this #ReadPOC2021 challenge, you ask? My original post is here. For an explanation and the general rules please go to the actual webpage of the challenge, hosted by Lonely Cryptid Media.

A becoming read #ReadPOC2021

Becoming
by Michelle Obama

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple.  I wanted a dog. I wanted a house that had stairs in it— two floors for one family. I wanted, for some reason, a four-door station wagon instead of the two-door Buick that was my father’s pride and joy. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician.“ 

Link

Michelle Obama‘s memoir, from her early childhood to the end of her second term as FLOTUS. I listened to the audiobook, as she narrated it herself. Mostly entertaining. About halfway through the audiobook I watched the Netflix rendition of her Becoming book tour. Equally entertaining.

Obviously she has a lot of important things to say about empowerment, education, equal rights—you name it—, but my primary interest really was to get to know her a little better and look behind the facade. Reading about the banana yellow car of her husband, for example. Or about going to couple‘s counseling. And I enjoyed the ride quite a bit, up until the part where she and her husband embarked on their presidential campaign. The technicalities of an electoral campaign and the politics did not interest me very much and the mentioning of memorable events throughout both terms felt a bit like ticking off a checklist at times. I could have done without the eight years of office, as they were glanced over pretty quickly and held little engaging content. I would have been quite happy, if the book had finished on the day Barack Obama was elected as POTUS. But I guess that wasn’t really an option. Still, overall this was pretty good.


This is my second entry for the January prompt of the BIPOC challenge I joined this year. My original post is here. For an explanation and the general rules please go to the actual webpage of the challenge, hosted by Lonely Cryptid Media.

The prompt and page for January is here: Books by Women of Color to Read for #ReadPOC2021

First Line Friday — Becoming

I didn‘t post anything since last Sunday. That‘s what happens, when you read a doorstopper, listen to a longish audiobook at the same time and watch too much TV.

I am still reading Revelation by C.J. Sansom and listening to Becoming by Michelle Obama for my #ReadPOC2021 challenge. I would like to finish both of them in January, but I am doubtful. Work is pretty stressful right now and I tend to watch more TV and read less, when that happens. Disney+ is quite entertaining… 😝 I am enjoying WandaVision and The Mandalorian. And then there is The Expanse on Netflix…

Anyway, I give you the first paragraph of Becoming:

„When I was a kid, my aspirations were simple.  I wanted a dog. I wanted a house that had stairs in it— two floors for one family. I wanted, for some reason, a four-door station wagon instead of the two-door Buick that was my father’s pride and joy. I used to tell people that when I grew up, I was going to be a pediatrician.“

From the book

I liked the first part of the book. I am about halfway now and we reached the part where Barak Obama is starting some serious campaigning, which I find less interesting.


First Line Friday is a meme created by Hoarding Books. Feel free to head over there, have a look around, grab a book and post its first line in the comments there and in your blog.

#ReadPOC2021 — February: By a Scientist

So, finding something that interests me for February is going to be a tough one. Scientists that fit the bill are seriously under-represented. Or I am very oblivious, take your pick. I am leaning towards space and the universe at large, natural history, Earth‘s history, the oceans, … I suppose it could be a memoir or biography of a scientist falling under the BIPOC heading.

What is this challenge, you ask? My original post is here. For an explanation and the general rules please go to the actual webpage of the challenge, hosted by Lonely Cryptid Media.

Back to February. I have been meaning to read something by Neil deGrasse Tyson for a while. Or maybe get an audiobook. I would like to listen to him narrating it himself though, which does not give me a lot of options. It would mean reading either Astrophysics for People in a Hurry or Letters from an Astrophysicist. That one sounds like fun. They are both fairly short though.

In my search of other authors I came across this list: Finding My Climate-Conscious Tribe: Black Nature Lovers and Writers. PlanetWalker (2005) by environmentalist John Francis looks interesting. From the book blurb:

“When the struggle to save oil-soaked birds and restore blackened beaches left him feeling frustrated and helpless, John Francis decided to take a more fundamental and personal stand—he stopped using all forms of motorized transportation. Soon after embarking on this quest that would span two decades and two continents, the young man took a vow of silence that endured for 17 years. It began as a silent environmental protest, but as a young African-American man, walking across the country in the early 1970s, his idea of “the environment” expanded beyond concern about pollution and loss of habitat to include how we humans treat each other and how we can better communicate and work together to benefit the earth.“

Another interesting list: Celebrating Black Environmentalists during Black History Month. I ended up browsing cooking books though, which is not really what I was looking for… Still, The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty sounds good. I am really tempted, after browsing through the preview. From the book blurb:

“Southern food is integral to the American culinary tradition, yet the question of who “owns” it is one of the most provocative touch points in our ongoing struggles over race. In this unique memoir, culinary historian Michael W. Twitty takes readers to the white-hot center of this fight, tracing the roots of his own family and the charged politics surrounding the origins of soul food, barbecue, and all Southern cuisine.“

And several other lists and blog posts lead me to Lauret Savoy and her book Trace. From the book blurb:

“Through personal journeys and historical inquiry, this PEN Literary Award finalist explores how America’s still unfolding history and ideas of “race” have marked its people and the land.“

“A provocative and powerful mosaic that ranges across a continent and across time, from twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from “Indian Territory” and the U.S.–Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.“

Still, those three books are more memoirs and histories than something I would lump under the heading scientific non-finction. So, I am stumped. I am open to suggestions!


The prompt and page for January is here: Books by Women of Color to Read for #ReadPOC2021.