Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

When I had finished Americanah, I tweeted that it was one of the best books I’d read in a while. After reading Adichie’s short story from the Season of Stories, I had been eager to read her longer fiction and, from researching her novels, Americanah was the one that jumped out at me. If you have been following this blog for a while, you might be aware that I work with international students, and it was clear from the blurb that a significant part of the narrative would be exploring one character’s life moving from Nigeria to study in the US; I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t the bit that attracted me. Adichie’s writing drew me in from the outset and I was entirely caught up with the characters throughout the narrative. Read more

Season of Stories: Wanle

Season of Stories: ‘Wanle’ by Kristiana Kahakauwila

This was one of the most interesting of the stories I received through the Season of Stories initiative. As someone from the UK, I have very little knowledge of Hawaii and so stepping into this world was fascinating for me. This was definitely one of the stories that had me eager to read the next installment, and I’m considering getting hold of the full collection of Kahakauwila’s short fiction from which this piece comes. Read more

Season of Stories: My Humans

Season of Stories: ‘My Humans’ by Lauren Holmes

I’ll admit that there are still a few Season of Stories installments from the Christmas period that are currently unread in my inbox, but of the stories I’ve read so far ‘My Humans’ has to be the weirdest. Written from the point of view of a dog, the narrative follows a human couple through mistrust, infidelity, and, eventually, the end of their relationship. There have been some stories in this initiative that have prompted me to buy the original collections they have been taken from; I have to say this was not one of them. It wasn’t the worst of the stories, but it wasn’t one I connected to. Read more

Season of Stories: Cell One

Season of Stories: ‘Cell One’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

You may remember that before Christmas, I started to post some brief reviews of the stories I had received in my inbox through Penguin Random House’s Season of Stories initiative. That initiative is over for now, but I still wanted to finish writing my thoughts down about these pieces of short fiction. However, whilst the first three reviews I posted were in the order that I had received them, these next ones will not be: the reason for this is simply that the stories I had strong feelings one way or another about turned out to be the quickest reviews to write. I’m currently reading one of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels, so her contribution to the initiative seems like a fitting place to start. Read more

Sherlock (BBC, 2010-2017)

Sherlock (BBC, 2010-2017), adapted by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss

This review originally started out as a review of just Series 4 of Sherlock, and it wasn’t going to be a particularly positive piece. However, as I was planning out what I wanted to say, I was reminded of why I loved Sherlock in the first couple of series and I felt the need to write something a little more balanced. ‘The Final Problem’ felt like an ending (and if the series continues further I don’t think I will watch) so I decided to do a review of the series as a whole, discussing both the positive and negative aspects of this adaptation. Read more

War and Peace (BBC, 2016)

War and Peace (BBC, 2016), adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by Tom Harper 

Last year there was a lot of buzz about the new BBC War and Peace adaptation: it seemed that everyone was watching it and wanting me to watch it too. I would be lying if I didn’t say that this series was one of the big inspirations for me reading the book last year; I had decided not to watch the series until I had read the book, so I had extra motivation to finish it before the end of the year. My expectations were quite high, particularly since so many of my friends and family had really enjoyed the series, and I’m pleased to say that it lived up to the buzz it had created, at least in my opinion. Read more

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love by Edward T. Welch

There are few books that have blindsided me as entirely as Side by Side, and it did so in the most challenging and revealing way. I downloaded this book at a time in my life when I felt that there were a lot of people in my life needing support and I felt in no way equipped to deal with all the different situations my friends were facing. I admit, I was looking for a fix-it: some incredible answer that would mean I could be the best possible friend to everyone all at once. The last thing I was expecting was to be challenged on the troubles I was ignoring in my own life. Read more

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

The very first review I posted on this blog was Jonas Jonasson’s The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. Shortly after posting that, I bought The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden with the intention of reading it straight away; only a year later did I actually get round to picking it up. An easy, light-hearted read was exactly what I was looking for at the start of the year, and I knew from The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared that Jonasson’s writing filled that description. Read more

Watching the English

Watching the English by Kate Fox

This may seem an unusual book to class as a ‘cross-cultural resource’, given my position as a British person living in my home culture. However, I think it is an important one to include in my list of resources for two reasons:

  1. It is important for anyone involved in cross-cultural work to be aware of the traditions and quirks of their own culture as well as other cultures. There are many things we take for granted in our own culture that we don’t even realise are not true in any other culture; awareness of this means that we will better understand when someone commits a cultural faux-pas, and we can handle the situation with plenty of grace and minimal offense.
  2. It is a general helpful resource for understanding my culture a bit better, wherever you are from. If you are curious at all about British culture, then you might find this an interesting read.

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Autumn by Ali Smith

One thing I’ve enjoyed about this past year of blogging has been that I’ve had an increased awareness of what newly published books to keep an eye out for. I’m not always in a position to buy them straight away, but it has meant that my Christmas list this year was essentially just a long list of hardback books I couldn’t buy for myself. Autumn was fairly near the top of the books I was really hoping for, so I was excited that to start reading it immediately. I had been intrigued by this first of a quartet of books that Ali Smith is releasing, especially after finding out that one aspect of the narrative would be about life in the UK after the Brexit vote. Read more