0

Homegoing – Yaa Gyasi: Book Review

homegoingreviewhearder

In June this year, I bought and downloaded ‘Homegoing’ by Yaa Gyasi onto my tablet, and I finally completed it today and it was such a different book from the ones I normally read and very relevant for the UK’s Black History Month that I wanted to talk about it. It is an amazing piece of literature definitely deserving a review. 

Yaa Gyasi is a Ghanaian-American novelist and Homegoing is her debut novel. At only 26 she has already won awards for this novel and of course, they are well deserved. According to her Wikipedia, Homegoing was inspired by a trip to her home country of Ghana, that she had not visited since being an infant. Homegoing is a phrase used for African-American funerals and is a big part of the culture and history. Back in the days of the slave trade, slaves believed death meant their soul would ‘go home’ and return to their native place in Africa. Of course, as the novel starts in the 18th century and explores the theme of slavery so raw and bluntly, I can see why Gyasi used this as a title. Of course, when I started reading I knew deep down this book was going to be more educational to me than it would ever be empathetic because this is a book of black history and the suffering, discrimination and such African people went through from 18th century onwards. I think it is a good idea for white people to read stories like this as it’s stories that are true and need to be told. Not forgotten. So many people went through so many things to even get to where we are today and in recent stories such as the rise of Black Lives Matters, the obvious problem of racism in many industries and shootings of black youth by police – it’s very important to remember we’ve still got a long way to go in learning from our ancestor’s discrimination and cruelty.


Admittedly I was terrible with keeping up on my reading on the first few chapters of Homegoing but I don’t put that down to the writing or topic at all. I’m very bad for procrastinating reading. But recently I picked up Homegoing again and got sucked back in and even between University classes or on the tram home I have found myself wishing I had more time to ‘just finish this chapter’ or ‘find out who the next character is’. Each character was so different but I loved how you could trace back the relatives and descendants to the original characters of Effia and Esi. Family/ancestors are an important theme in this story. It also explores two regions of Ghana, the Ashanti people and the Fante. From reading this I am so in love and amazed by Gyasi’s knowledge and research of her culture and the past of Ghana. Even at the end of the book I looked at her list of references and was incredibly impressed. The passion to spread the knowledge and history of Ghana is so amazing and Gyasi is an incredible author and writes each character so beautifully and makes each of their stories so unique, that you find yourself glued to the book intrigued.

Gyasi does not spare anything writing the honest past of these characters and how some of them lived through well-known history including the African Slave Trade, the Plantation era, segregation in the US, riots, war on drugs etc., it left me feeling like I had gotten a more honest and powerful insight to how people of colour experienced these times. A quote that stood out to me massively about half way through the book was:

“We believe the one who has power. He is the one who gets to write the story. So when you study history you must ask yourself, Whose story am I missing?, Whose voice was suppressed so that this voice could come forth? Once you have figured that out, you must find that story too. From there you get a clearer, yet still imperfect, picture.” 

This stood out because I think it’s a quote and question to ask yourself even now. What’s in the history books in school in the US isn’t always correct. Things are missed out, people are missed out. Think of the Ferguson riots and many other riots after innocent black youth had been killed after. Thankfully on Twitter, people are lot more quick to notice the anomalies, but there was so many call outs for ‘trustworthy’ media ignoring important facts or honest stories from black witnesses. Media would paint the white policeman as a victim and the barely even adolescent black child as not. In this day and age, racism is systematic and history is changed to suit those who are in charge.


As I prepared to write this review, I actually scanned over other people’s reviews and one talked about how most ‘the past of slavery’ centered books tend to just be there to shock and upset. I don’t really agree and I definitely think Homegoing is different from that. It doesn’t give you a bird’s eye view, it puts you right there in the character’s shoes. It takes you through generations to see how, even though the African slave trade is in the past, things still effect people of colour today. There is still lasting effects and that we shouldn’t ever forget about it. It’s not something we can brush under a rug or let a white leader convince us that it’s all ‘over and done with’.

I wanted to make this a spoiler-free review but I’ll mention briefly, the ending characters who close the book for me were based in the 21st century, I’m guessing around 2001. The final female character, Marjorie, takes our final male character Marcus back to Ghana where she grew up, more specifically, the Cape Coast. The story itself starts with fire and fire is actually a prominent theme throughout the story, however as the two characters stand on the beach in the sun there is this one paragraph:

She walked to where he stood, where the fire met the water. He took her hand and they both looked out into the abyss of it. The fear that Marcus had felt inside the castle was still there, but he knew it was like the fire, a wild thing that could still be controlled, contained.”

I thought this was such an amazing little scene that I actually wrote it down. I loved the contrasting symbolism of starting with a fire and ending with water. I can never spot or decipher exactly what this symbolism could have meant to the author but I feel it was to maybe be a metaphor for the character’s futures. The vast, big sea on the coast of Ghana, the character’s ancestors homes – where it all started. To show despite all of the anger, distress, brutality, violence and suffering the characters go through during the book, they are still there. They are still strong and part of the Earth. Their ancestries are important stories to the Earth and despite how horrible the world can be, people will keep fighting. The ocean scene is almost like a healing scene compared to the rest of the book, although it is clear you are meant to understand that racism and discrimination is still rampant, the two characters are given a moment of peace and clarity, of happiness.

I think this is definitely a novel to pick up this year and read as it is so educational and relevant even now. The cover art I have seen for it is also beautifully illustrated and it’s just such a raw, enthralling book that I might consider getting a physical copy for myself to read again in the future.

Thank you for reading, Homegoing is currently available here on Amazon UK

signaturejuly16

 

Advertisements
0

How To Survive the Sun in Manchester

howtosurvivesunshineinmanny

So if you live in Manchester right now you’re probably thinking, what in god’s name is that massive glowing orb in the sky and where have all the clouds gone?! First of all, don’t panic people of Manchester – this is called sunshine, and god – it is BOILING.

And what’s even stranger is that Manchester has been blessed with a good couple of days of sunshine and rain-free days, which must be a sign the end is nigh, am I right? So get ready to see Piccadilly Gardens invaded with people in swimsuits as if they’re chilling in Spain, get ready to have almost all of the supermarkets on Market Street sold out of ice cream and get ready for a very crowded Deansgate and Northern Quarter full of day drinkers enjoying the sun. Although it can get annoying – it wouldn’t be a Manc summer without it all!

1.Get out the comfy shoes 

Honestly, I have only recently discovered how much walking I do when I’m out in town due to the heat. My feet get sore way faster and I pray that nobody can smell the sweat accumulating in my socks. Now you’ll see a lot of people whip out the flip-flops and sandals for this kind of weather but all in all, make sure your shoes are comfy. If you’re out in Manchester for a day out and don’t want to be wanting to sit down every 10 minutes; please put on your comfy shoes. Primark do thin cotton trainer socks for under £4, wear them and some comfy trainers and trekking all the way from Deansgate-Castlefield metrolink stop to Northern Quarter should be a bit less sore.

 

2.Be prepared for the pit stank on the Metrolink

Now, a lot of people who’ve grown up in Manchester know how ridiculously unreliable the Metrolinks are. But we still take them, right? They get you into Manchester, Eccles, Altrincham, Rochdale, Bury etc. a bit faster than some buses and the route map is pretty easy to understand. I can’t vouch that the tickets are cheaper than bus tickets (honestly, the amount of times I’ve collected my tips from work and just thought ‘ok that’s half of my tram fare for tomorrow sorted’), but I can imagine that I’d be pretty lost getting to places without the tram. However, busy trams in the hot weather are a good definition of nightmares. Especially if you have a massive pet peeve for B.O. This advice can go both ways; obviously if you’re gonna be travelling during a peak time on public transport – do yourself a favour and wash so the smell of your sweat isn’t getting up anyone else’s noses or prepare for the smell on the trams. When you jump on try and avoid standing under anyone’s armpit range; maybe even open a window on the tram to help cool the air.

3.Practice your resting bitch face mixed with power walk for Market Street

Market Street is probably the worst place to try and get down when you’re in a rush as there’s such a mess of different people on there you’re most likely going to stop every 2 minutes to quietly grumble and dodge around that one person that’s decide to stop dead in their tracks in front of you to check their phone. Don’t forget the groups of people who think they’re having a casual stroll down an empty beach, the people who see you coming towards them but then walk right in front of your path, the people who stop you and try to charm you into buying an overpriced magazine. The list goes on, if you haven’t experienced any of these, have you really been in Manchester? The best thing is always to just storm through the crowd, when people even come towards you with ‘hey, got a minute?’ go ‘sorry, going to work’ and quickly move on your way. Or you know, dive into BHS and use the Arndale as a shortcut.

market-street

Source: manchesterbynight.com/venues

 

4.Don’t miss out on Manchester’s great places that serve ice creams, milkshakes and cold drinks!

At the end of the day, if you’re out for a shop or catch up with friends in Manchester – sitting down for a drink or some food is the best way to relax and chat in the sunshine. Of course there’s plenty of brand names chilling on Market Street including Starbucks, Costa, McDonalds, Nandos etc. But don’t waste the gorgeous day by hiding in Arndale’s food court queueing up for Mcdonalds. It’s just not worth it. There’s plenty of amazing places to stop by in Manchester – a good example for the weather is Ginger’s Comfort Emporium in Afflecks Palace; totally quirky and equipped with unique flavours such as Golden Syrup, Salted Caramel & Peanut Butter (a.k.a the Chorlton Crack) or even Apple Pie Sorbet! If you’re a fan of cold drinks, why not visit Mooboo in the Arndale and try a bubble tea; or head to Fuel Juice Bar located near the Arndale markets for a smoothie if you’re feeling fruity! Of course I can’t not mention my beloved V Revolution in this post – their milkshakes and soda floats are amazing. You can get milkshake flavours like vanilla, chocolate, raspberry and blueberry (you can also ask for a chocolate mix of chocolate with raspberry ice cream or chocolate and blueberry ice cream) which are all made in the cafe and made entirely vegan. Cruelty-free milkshakes for the win!

13322048_10208290609374575_4818880158047937748_n.jpg

But yeah, what do you like to get up to in the sunshine to survive the insane heat? Any places in Manchester or your home town you favour for ice cream and cold snacks?

Thanks for reading!

signaturemarch16

0

Captain America: Civil War Review

captainamericareviewheader.png

The other day me and my boyfriend Will had a date night and got to finally watch the long awaited first Marvel hit of the year – Captain America: Civil War. Admittedly, I hadn’t been hugely vamped up for this film as much as other Marvel fans are, however I can admit that those fans were not wrong for being excited as I absolutely loved every minute of Civil War. This post will start including important stories when I post the word ‘Spoiler’, so let’s start with the stuff everyone can hear.

DokiDoki-Header-1.jpg

First of all, I would recommend watching the first two Captain America films before Civil War. Both films give you all of Steve Roger’s backstory so you understand his motives in this film, as well as stories of important characters Bucky Barnes, Peggy Carter and the Agents of Shield. I personally don’t think you’d need to see the first Avengers film, but the second Avengers film – Age of Ultron; would be worth watching as it introduces you to some of the characters in the film and how the character Vision becomes a thing. Another point is, much like this year’s Batman Vs Superman, I personally wouldn’t recommend taking young children to see Civil War. I work at a cinema and have been seeing parents take very young children, and it is allowed because of the 12A rating however there are some scenes that I personally think wouldn’t go past me as a kid. Considering the film is sold as a rivalry between Captain America and Iron Man, there is of course TONS of fight scenes. Although I think the part of the film I think is a bit out there for children to see, is a particular scene where the film’s antagonist tortures another villain by basically hanging him upside down and lowering him into water – the characters are obviously sold as villains and not characters to look up to, but the scene goes on for a few minutes and some parents might find it too dark for young children.

tumblr_n4wgijG3gO1r95nllo1_250.png

Ok so, spoilers ahead!

The film dives straight into the action, like most Marvel films, with an awesome scene of the new Avengers, fighting in Sokovia – in the aftermath of Age of Ultron. Unfortunately in this mission, Scarlet Witch – whilst attempting to protect Captain America from a grenade – destroys a building full of innocent people. This whole scene is the leading impetus for the whole film. From this the government declares a United Nations deal to the Avengers which tells them they should sign the deal, make the government aware of their alias and publicly take responsibility for damage that is made. Captain is against this deal, however Tony Stark is very much for it after hearing a woman’s story of how her ambitious, intelligent son was killed in the destruction of the building in Sokovia. Another thing the film lets us see is, the backstory of Tony Stark’s parents. The last time young Tony saw his parents they were going away to travel but apparently never even made it to the airport. It is later then revealed that a Hydra assassin (ooh, I wonder who), stalked down and murdered the Starks in cold blood, to steal a container of super serum from the back of Stark’s car. I very much enjoyed seeing Iron Man’s motives behind why he is very much for the United Nations deal, as I really enjoy Tony Stark as a character. I think he has a lot of personality and I like how in the Iron Man films and Age of Ultron it shows us Tony’s anxiety and PTSD. He’s a complex character and I’m glad the film gave us the reasons behind his choices because I was worried it wouldn’t be obvious and it’d just be seen as ‘Iron Man being a bit of a dick’ towards Captain America.

The film does make you realise both sides have valid points. Steve Roger’s is also in fear of the safety of his long lost friend Bucky Barnes. Bucky was basically captured by Hydra(an evil company that parallel Nazis, they are main villains in both previous Captain America films), and brainwashed heavily by them so they could use him as their assassin. He has killed a LOT of people whilst he was working as the ‘Winter Soldier’, but his childhood friend Steve Rogers was able to get through to the Bucky deep inside and this film furthers Captain America trying to save Bucky. The film shows us flashbacks to Bucky’s torture which is really heartbreaking to watch. In present day of the film Bucky is living in hiding (as they do in a Marvel film, wearing a cap because that makes them look nothing like them – apparently), but is noticeably highly anxious and nervous because of his ‘Winter Soldier’ actions. It’s quite precious to see how Bucky is slowly remembering who Steve Rogers is and how he tells Steve he doesn’t want to kill anymore.

Other characters that pop up in the film include Black Panther, Spiderman and Antman. I actually haven’t got round to watching last year’s Antman but this film definitely sold him to me. Paul Rudd has so much wit and charm, his introductory scene in the film made me laugh and how he acted meeting the Captain. Black Panther and Spiderman are the main new additions to this film and definitely stole the show. Black Panther was a brilliant character and has made me so excited to watch his stand alone film because I think his independent story will be super interesting. He also has a scene at the end with the antagonist of the film, where he stops the villain from shooting himself and getting out of this. It’s very badass and unexpected and I think it fits T’Challa’s character so well. T’Challa is played amazingly by Chadwick Boseman who gives the character a lot of emotion and he is the character on Iron Man’s side you really cheer on because he is trying to avenge his father. Spiderman is also new, because this is Marvel’s new spiderman. He is the perfect Spiderman with his cocky, chatty personality and I loved his interactions with Tony Stark and his interactions on the battlefield. I also long for future scenes between him and Captain America, because despite them being on different sides of the ‘war’, they had quite an amusing moment when fighting and I am impressed by Spiderman’s moves that actually managed to stagger Steve pretty well.

IMG_2936.jpg

Some other stand out points of this film to me included:

  • Black Widow is back like I wanted her. Age of Ultron did Black Widow’s character terribly, in my honest opinion compared to her character in Winter Soldier. In Civil War she is full of badass moves and is strong and amazing. Scarlet Witch also brings it to the table too, I love all the scenes with her in it – fighting or not. Elizabeth Olsen is an incredible actress and I low-key have a crush on her.
  • The Vision in everyday clothes trying to cook. Enough Said.
  • Bucky’s ‘activation’ brainwash words are very intriguing. Are they code for something? Or just random words? I wonder if this’ll be cleared up later on in other films.
  • Where is Nick Fury.
  • A lovely send off for Peggy Carter that got me teary-eyed. As soon as Steve receives the text saying ‘she’s passed in her sleep’, it instantly hit me who it was about and I inaudibly mouthed ‘no Peggy my baby’ in the cinema.
  • Let’s talk about that amazing chase scene between Captain America, Bucky, Falcon, Black Panther and the police. My favourite part of that was when Bucky stole that motorcycle. The intense cinematography and sound effects made it so badass.
  • The ending was a bit fast paced for me to be honest. The final stand off between Captain, Iron Man and Bucky had me on the edge of my seat and I was genuinely in fear Captain would kill Iron Man as he basically had his shield half way through the reactor in his chest. The cold hearted way Captain chucked down his shield when Tony called out saying ‘you don’t deserve that. My dad made it for you.’ was thrilling and I honestly wasn’t expecting that to be the last scene between them. However not long after it is shown Tony receiving an apology letter from Steve. It felt a bit half-arsed considering the fight that just happened but I guess they needed to wrap up fast.
  • Bucky is back in the freezer. I wasn’t expecting that either after the whole film and chase down for Bucky. Will he be awoken in Infinity War or before that? If Bucky was to get a stand alone film would that be his chance to wake up and remove more of his brainwashed side before Infinity War?
rev 003.png

Vision looking dapper

All in all I rate Civil War a definite 4.5/5!

Thanks for reading,

signaturemarch16

0

Japan Crate & Doki Doki Crates!

A lot more people are signing up to ‘loot’ box subscriptions nowadays and you can find loads of different subscriptions for different, audience tailored products. A popular one, I have tried a couple of boxes in the past is definitely Loot Crate. A monthly subscription to a box that is based around a ‘geek & gamer’ theme. For example Loot Crate’s December theme was ‘Galaxy’ probably to fit in with the release of The Force Awakens you would receive items to do with ‘galaxy’ themed series including Halo or Star Wars. Another great thing about these ‘loot’ subscriptions is you have no idea what you’re getting until you get it! At Loot Crate you are told the upcoming theme but you have no idea what items you’re gonna get! That’s why you’ll find so many Youtube videos of people unboxing them to share what items you get!

But this blog post obviously isn’t to sell Loot Crate (although I do recommend it to fans of ‘nerdy’ stuff), I have just recently come across an adorable subscription called Japan Crate. Ever since I was little and started getting into Japanese animated films like Studio Ghibli and games like Pokemon, I have grown an attachment to Japanese subculture and went through that embarrassing teenage phase of wanting to dress like an anime character and wanting to go to school in Japan and basically thinking Japan is the ‘land of anime’. I was a very naive teenage girl. Growing up, obviously I’ve researched and learnt a lot more stuff about Japan and although I can now definitely see the flaws of some anime culture and how western fans exploit it, I still love it deep at heart. I would love to travel there before I die and take in the place, try the food, see the architecture and visit the museums. But let’s be honest, as well as the ‘mature’ way of viewing my plans to travel there one day, I’m still a sucker for some of the unique and ‘wacky’ merchandise and candy you can get there and Japan Crate provides people with just that!

The smallest deal on Japan Crate is getting a mini box that provides you with 5 different Japanese treats to try. That crate is around $12/£8.20 a month! I have tried small Japanese and Korean treats in the past before including a well known favourite Pocky and it’s so fun to try the unique treats because they’re so different to the UK’s ‘origin’ snacks. Don’t get me wrong, I thank my country for bringing Jelly Babies to my childhood but you’d never find a matcha green tea Kit Kat chilling in Morrisons. As well as Japan Crate there is also the Doki Doki crate! Labelled as a monthly supply of ‘kawaii merchandise’. Both subscriptions are absolutely adorable and I recommend them to anyone who is a fan of trying unique snacks or collecting cute small merchandise like keychains and such! The only thing with Doki Doki is the smallest subscription plan is a one month plan for $30/£20.60. But there’s a good chance if you’re a big fan of anime, cute merchandise, studio ghibli and more you will love this box!

DokiDoki-Header-1.jpg

What do you think of this subscription? Are you a fan of these mystery monthly boxes?

Thanks for reading!

signaturemarch16

 

0

Cosplay inspiration from Nintendo Direct

Today’s Nintendo Direct was pretty intriguing! Most of this year I haven’t really been paying much attention to Nintendo’s releases and plans. I did originally want to purchase one of their new ‘New Nintendo 3DS’ consoles because my original 3DS is becoming a bit scuffed and such however I never got round to saving the money for it which is a shame. Considering the adorable cover plates you can get for it!
x-default11999939_10206535764664554_1678565677_nwebcam-toy-photo5

There’s so many variation and the screen resolution on the new consoles look stunning! But today my friend asked me if I was watching the direct so I decided to have a peek at it and ended up very hooked. My favourite parts of the Nintendo direct was definitely..

tumblr_static_8s9h73t2ay4okco80gwcc800w

Pokemon Red,Blue and Yellow Digital Release

Unlike most people in my generation I was actually very late to the Pokemon gaming community. Most of my Pokemon fan friends were lucky enough to enjoy the original games back when it was released on game boy however my first game was Pokemon Diamond! However the announcement of the re-releases of Red, Blue and Yellow on digital download was super exciting! I am considering downloading red or yellow!

11999939_10206535764664554_1678565677_n

Star Fox Zero on Wii U

I have never played Star Fox before but watching the gameplay on today’s Nintendo Direct has definitely made me want to purchase Star Fox Zero which is coming out April 22nd 2016. The art style in this Wii U game definitely caught my eye and I’m always a fan of sci-fi settings so I will be buying it!

IMG_4126

Linkle announced for Hyrule Warriors Legends

This definitely hit my list of favourite things in this Nintendo Direct because when Linkle’s design was shown I absolutely fell in love with her. Growing up I actually never gendered Link until I was older (fun fact when I was little I thought Link was a girl! I also thought Knuckles from Sonic was female.), but obviously the developers have designed Link as male presenting and finally we have Linkle! With precious blonde plaits and badass double crossbows, her design almost makes me consider buying Hyrule Warriors Legends. It is releasing early 2016 and I recommend anyone to try playing as Linkle she looks so interesting to play as!

Speaking of Linkle, my main inspiration from this Nintendo Direct is that I am so in love with Linkle’s design I am considering trying to cosplay her for MCM Expo in 2016. I am definitely a rookie cosplayer considering my only complete cosplay I have done is my Harley Quinn cosplay this year!

tumblr_nvhw2dw1mk1tyl7jzo1_400

veggie-page-image_1fcb

So yeah from today on I am going to try to plan out a cosplay of Linkle. Looking at her full design I would definitely have to try to model my own crossbow props. I’m also not 100% sure what is hung round her neck but I’m assuming it is a compass? Aside from modelling them I am super excited to make it! The green cape will be fun to make!

Anybody got any cosplay plans for next year or are inspired/excited about today’s Nintendo direct?

Thanks for reading,

Lenah x x