2019 in Review

Twenty-nineteen was the year for me to relax while also achieving my goals. I completed more than half of my 2019 goals in the first half and I’m so proud of myself. I didn’t write a single monthly wrap-up this year because I decided to be more relaxed even though I still took literary reviews and reading seriously. I am a Literary Blogger, Bookstagrammer & Booktuber. Let’s get right into the highlights of my last year in this decade.

DIVIDER PURPLE

On Publishing & Manuscripts

In my 23rd year of breathing air and first time submitting a manuscript, I got a publishing deal for a romance novel, I wrote with dreams of it getting published because I wanted to have a modern romance set in my country, with people from country and cultures I can 100% relate to and this was inspired by how large the book community advocated for own voices romance. This is a growth I am very proud of and I am nervous and excited to share my words with you guys in 2020. Guess Who Signed a Publishing Contract?

I left my first official job as a graduate from the university and it’s 100% the best choice I made in the whole of 2019. It was a publishing firm, thanks to it, this year I got to add being an editor to the list of things I do because the second book I edited is now a published book and I am proud to have myself associated with it. Meanwhile, I edited the first book a full novel twice and never got compensated for it. I wrote an article about how horrible working on the manuscript was on my personal blog. Editing is a bottomless pit of darkness.

But at least from October has been the most chill I’ve been all year, where I am in a work environment I 100% love, going to work doesn’t fill me up with dread anymore and I am earning enough to go to work, save money and treat myself.

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Finally, I also self-published a book. I know such a huge deal! but it’s really just a guide book on self-publishing for authors who want to go through that path or are confused about where to start from. I Published A Guide Book to Self-Publishing!

On Being a Reader

I didn’t set a Goodreads Reading Challenge this year and you guys the kind of peace it brought me, I didn’t have to feel guilty or feel pressured I wasn’t reading enough and guess what my goal was to read at least 100 books and I got to 100 early this month and for sure I haven’t stopped reading, so when it comes to reading this year was the most relax, where I read books just for the sake of reading and not feeling guilty for not writing a review for it.

I relaunched my YouTube channel and one of my best friends surprised me with a camera and it’s kit for recording. I have been trying to put out weekly content but I am buried under all the activities I have to do. Plus I honestly don’t know how to break out to the booktube community, but I am thankful for my wonderful friends who are always so supportive. Here are two videos in which I showcase all the books I hauled in 2019.

I read mostly works by African/POC authors this year, minus all the reverse harem and bully romance I was reading (very white authors) and I am very proud of myself. Never would I have thought this time would come but here I am surprising myself. Anyways I hope I can summon the energy in 2020 to write a black main characters reverse harem story because it’s something I am needing in my reading life.

On Being Social

Ake Festival! The biggest book festival in my country, Nigeria. This year was exceptional, loved the panels with many of my adored authors, got introduced to more African authors. I learnt a lot of lessons that I am applying to my daily life, got to speak with and take pictures with authors. The signing of the books etc. it’s just the ultra place to geek out if you’re a bibliophile in Nigeria. I mean I met Bernadine Evaristo, The Booker Prize 2019 winner. Which reminds me I saved N200 for every book I read until October, where I empty it and spent all the money acquiring new books at the festival. I can’t wait for the event to hold again in 2020.

I hosted not one but two bookish events in 2019. I planned a get-together, with food, games and gifts, and it wasn’t a free event, but people still paid and turned up, which is awesome because never would I have thought I had it in me to host events, but everyone who attended always left with warm words, about how it was a safe space to be themselves, kick back their feet and enjoy themselves with fellow like-minded people.

I attended a book picnic, where I was appreciated for all I do in the Nigerian literary community, like the owner of Nigeria’s best book store knows my name and I just met her for the first time at her event. Here’s to tooting my own horn, but being a Bookstagram has really helped my blogging life and I inspire more people on there to get or pick up a book.

I  started my own book sleeve organisation, and I did a lot of bookish giveaways through my various bookstagram accounts (also partnered with various organisations) and with my newsletter service to the literary readers in my country, who are members of my literary society Bookish Species.

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DIVIDER PURPLE

This has been a year of many firsts and looking back there’s nothing I can complain about, because I had a blessed year from start to finish, even though there were some unfortunate occurrences that happened, but the good by far outshines the bad and I can only hope 2020 is better.

How was 2019 for you? Do you have a 2019 wrap-up or end of year post? Drop the link below for me to read and interact with. Here’s to us making 2020 our best years yet.

lara love

Attending a Book Picnic!

Have you ever wondered how the name Picnic came to be? Me neither until right now as I was writing this post, I guess afterwards I will google the origins and sate my curiosity.

On the 8th of December, 2019 I was invited for a Book Picnic, organised by one of my countries leading bookstore Roving Heights, I even got a special invitation because they noticed how I try to give back and encourage reading with my spaces on the internet, as well as my recommendations to their store.

I had nothing better to do, well I had work to do and was healing from an ailment but I preferred hanging out with bookish people, so of course, I got dressed and was on my way.

But that’s not all, I decided to Vlog because I realised it’s wonderful content for my Booktube account, which needs more love from the literary community by the way. I am taking the advice from one of my friends and now every time I share a video, I shall create a post for it as well on my blog.

I do hope more people watch my videos and give me more advice so I can become better with my youtube channel. Anyway here is the Vlog for the Roving Heights Book Picnic below.

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A Gift Guide for Book Lovers

I put together this guide for my Bookish Species Newsletter. This list is providing you with a perfect gift guide for getting gifts that will be 100% appreciated by bookworms (especially those in Nigeria) even more so because all vendors are local!

This guide is perfect for all occasions…Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Birthdays etc. Whatever it won’t hurt to add an item, two or all when buying gifts for that special somebody.

Booksleeves

Book sleeves are stylish protectors of books, they help prevent books from tearing, dents and many other dangers, which can wear them down, especially while on the go.

These are perfect gifts for bookworms because it helps them preserve their books. There are various makers of handmade book sleeves to choose from.

● Book Gloves

@bookgloves is by Bookish Species and sells each book sleeves at the rate of ₦1500 *p.s. Book Gloves online store is located on Instagram*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Book Gift Co

@bookgiftco sells book sleeves at the rate of ₦2000-₦3000 *p.s. Book Gift Co online store is mainly located on Instagram*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@flippingpagesng sells book sleeves at the rate of ₦2000-₦3000 *p.s. Flipping Pages online store is located on Instagram*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gift Cards

Speaking on behalf of all bookworms, if we don’t specifically ask for a book or have explicitly said we want so, so and so book, rather than deciding by yourself and picking a random book, why not get a gift card to a book store so they bookworm gets to pick by themself.

● Roving Heights

@rovingheights is Nigeria’s leading provider of local and worldwide books, they’re always ready to provide their customers with books they want at cost-effective prices. They offer gift cards so rather than buying a random book as a gift leave it in the hands of the bookworm. Visit rhbooks.com.ng to buy a gift card from ₦5000 upwards for the deserving bookworm

● OkadaBooks

@okadabooks is Africa’s leading digital content provider of local and original books and a haven for all genres of books, you can credit bookworms account with any amount. Visit OkadaBooks Gift to credit that deserving bookworm’s account.

Littart by Ai Notebooks

Journals are awesome gifts, everyone is always in need of a new notebook.

Littart by Ai notebooks all are handmade with local fabric materials. They’re all hardback and either spiral bound or sewn bound notebooks. They come in two sizes which are A5 or A6. Plain pages or rule pages, padded or unpadded cover, come with a band or not, the great thing is the journals can also be customised!

There’s a bonus, which is the Gratitude Journal, where people can record things they’re thankful for that happened during their day.

The price is from ₦800-₦2000 each. Visit @LittartArtbyAi on Instagram to get yours.

● Non-Ruled Journals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Ruled Journals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Gratitude Journals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mugs

Not just any ceramic mug. Mugs just like Tote bags that are expressive, making use of images and words that a bookworm can relate to. A plain mug isn’t good enough. It needs to represent the bookworm, this is when it becomes a thoughtful gift.

● Book Gift Co

@bookgiftco sells bookish mugs at the rate of ₦1000-₦2000 *p.s. Book Gift Co online store is mainly located on Instagram*

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Customised

How about using your own design or words to decorate a mug? Words that will make the bookworm smile upon receiving the wonderful gift. Here’s a list of organisations that are trustworthy and deliver on time.

  1. Printivo
  2. Inklar

Stickers & Button Badges

Stickers are the perfect pair with a journal gift, don’t you think? Customised stickers and button badges are even better gifts. Print out words and images that aline with the beliefs and interests of the bookworm in question, with witty bookish statements, nicknames or real names and bookish quotes.

For this The Gadget Tailor has you covered. Hit them up over on Instagram or on WhatsApp to get the rates.

● Stickers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Buttons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tote Bags

Tote bags are fabulous ways to make a statement, which is why so many bookworms are attracted to tote bags with wonderful bookish statements or quotes and the best thing there are so many people who can customise a tote bags to say what you want it.

● Book Gift Co

@bookgiftco sells tote bags at the rate of ₦2000 *p.s. Book Gift Co online store is mainly located on Instagram*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

● Customised

@o_yemcollections sells & customises tote bags from the rate of ₦1500 *p.s. Tote Bags by O’Yem can be reached on WhatsApp*

Extras

Tote bags are fabulous ways to make a statement, which is why so many bookworms are attracted to tote bags with wonderful bookish statements or quotes and the best thing there are so many people who can customise a tote bags to say what you want it.

How about using your own design or words to decorate a T-Shirt? Words that will make the bookworm smile upon receiving the wonderful gift.

Here’s a list of organisations that are trustworthy and deliver on time.

  1. Printivo
  2. Inklar

There are a couple of Literary Festivals that happen every year in Nigeria, tickets for such events prices vary, getting tickets to such events will be a gift a bookworm will never forget.

  1. Ake Festival
  2. Kaduna Books and Arts Festival (KabaFest)
  3. Lagos Books and Arts Festival (LABAF)
  4. Lagos Internation Poetry Festival (LIPF)
  5. Abuja Literary Festival (ALitFest)
  6. Art X Lagos

There are a couple of Literary Festivals that happen every year in Nigeria, tickets for such events prices vary, getting tickets to such events will be a gift a bookworm will never forget.

Fancy packaging, foreign items and the likes that a bookworm can’t typically get just anywhere in Nigeria, such edible treats include

  1. Chocolates: Toblerone, Twix, Kit Kat, Smarties, Ferrero Rocher etc.
  2. Biscuits/Cookies/Popcorn (The Lekki Gift Company has a lot of fancy biscuits and sweets)
  3. Tea (Fancy ones i.e. Twinings can be found at mega supermarkets stores like Prince Ebeano, Hubmart, Shoprite etc.)

This article was first published on Bookish Species.

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Book Review: Manchester Happened by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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Title – Manchester Happened

Author – Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Publication – May 23rd, 2019.

Publisher – One World Publications

Genre – Short Story Collection & Ugandan Fiction

An ambitious and assured collection of short stories from the internationally acclaimed author of Kintu

If there’s one thing the characters in Jennifer Makumbi’s stories know, it’s how to field a question.

‘Let me buy you a cup of tea… what are you doing in England?’

‘Do these children of yours speak any Luganda?’

‘Did you know that man Idi Amin?’

But perhaps the most difficult question of all is the one they ask themselves: ‘You mean this is England?’

Told with empathy, humour and compassion, these vibrant, kaleidoscopic stories re-imagine the journey of Ugandans who choose to make England their home. Weaving between Manchester and Kampala, this dazzling, polyphonic collection will captivate anyone who has ever wondered what it means to truly belong.

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I’ve read many collections of short stories which endings leave me feeling unsettled and bothered because of how abrupt the stories end but this isn’t the case with this book. All stories end perfectly and I found myself chuckling out loud in public spaces while reading this book, which is the best collections of short stories I have ever read since my primary school days.

I laugh in the face of people who think writing short stories is easier than writing a novel. And not just any kind of short story, one with the all the best characteristics of a novel, go ahead…try it, let’s see how easy it is.

I highly love Jennifer Makumbi’s writing and I am so happy she fought for this collection to be published! This pressed on the fact I need to read Kintu ASAP.

One thing I learnt from reading this collection is that we African’s really have characteristics that bind us despite how different our traditions and culture are. I really loved reading about the Ugandans and is it just me but I spotted some connections in the stories that were told, like “Our Allies the Colonies” and “The Nod”

“Let’s Tell This Story Properly” had my heart in my throat and my anger, but what is wonderful throughout is how powerful and inspiring Nnam is.

Of course, my favourite story in the collection is “Memoirs of a Namaaso” because hello a huge canine lover over here. It’s also a story that leaves me 100% curious because of how bittersweet it is.

Of all the humans in the story my favourite was Poonah and I love how we get to follow her in not one but two stories. “In Love Made in Manchester” Masaaba had me in shock and anticipating how the story would end and I love I felt all the intended emotions the story was meant to evoke.

If I was a white person or someone of lower intellect I would be complaining about how this book doesn’t explain the many Ugandan words and expression and be crying about the—*blasphemous* fact there’s no glossary to explain them. Ladies and gentlemen, there’s google and let it be the norm for writers whose indigenous languages aren’t English to use their indigenous words in their books because it is 100% normal for them.

Each of the stories are wonderful and portray beautiful people going about their normal lives. The writing is well put together and definitely unproblematic. The storytelling is seamless and easy to follow. Need I say more? What are you waiting for? Add this book to your TBR if you’ve not read it already!

5

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