READ THE WORLD – The Gambia: Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster

On her eighteenth birthday, Ayodele has decided it is time to lose her virginity, but who will be the man she chooses? There’s Reuben, the safe option; Yuan, a schoolfriend with the potential for something more; and Frederick Adams, the father of her best friend. What she doesn’t know is that her choice will have a drastic effect on the rest of her life. Three men, three paths, one to Europe, university and heartache, one that will send her travelling around the globe, and the other will see her remain in Africa as a wife and mother in a polygamous marriage. Each will shape her life, but which will she choose?

Reading the Ceiling is told in three parts, each one starting on the night of Ayodele’s birthday and then spanning the next fifty or so years of her life. You get to see how one choice can shape Ayodele’s life but at the same time there are many things that are outside of her control. For instance, things that happen to characters around Ayodele, like tragic accidents or the choice of a university, generally happen no matter who she chose to sleep with.

The interesting thing was that while her choice set Ayodele on three very different paths, she herself was still the same person deep down, no matter where life took her. She’s headstrong with a good work ethic, she’s smart and capable of being both independent and in a relationship. She’s content being by herself or being with friends and she tends to clash with her mother no matter where life takes her.

Seeing Ayodele’s three different lives play out, I find it difficult to choose which one I feel was best for her, or which one showed her to be the happiest. It’s clever because all three lives had highs and lows, joy and sadness – just like anyone’s life.

Reading the Ceiling was a surprisingly quick read, especially as it spanned a woman’s lifetime three times over. I enjoyed seeing how life in The Gambia may or may not change over fifty years and seeing more of the various countries Ayodele lived in during her three lives. I also enjoyed seeing Ayodele grow as a person, and how her experiences shaped her and may have affected those around her.


READ THE WORLD – New Zealand: All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman

*I received a proof copy of this book from the publisher upon request it, in return for an honest review*

In 1952, war widow Irene Sandle travels to the tobacco fields of New Zealand in the hope of building a new and better life for her daughter Jessie. But this bold act of independence triggers a ripple effect whose repercussions resonate long after her death, forever shaping her children’s lives – for better or worse.

All Day at the Movies spans over sixty years and three generations, following Irene’s children Jessie, Belinda, Grant and Janice. The story spans their lives, romances, mistakes and their own children’s lives too, and slowly you begin to see the lasting impact of Irene’s choices. Some of the consequences of her actions are horrific but she was just as much a victim of circumstance as her children would be, and there’s no way she could have predicted what would happen to her children. At the time she, was doing what she thought was best for her and her daughter, struggling to survive any way she could.

Each chapter is like a snapshot in time, looking at where a member of the family or people adjacent to them are and how they’re doing. As the years jump forward, anywhere between one to ten years, you see how time has affected this family. These snapshots are an interesting way to tell these characters stories, and it does make All Day at the Movies a quick read, but it does sometimes make it harder to connect to these characters and who they encounter. For example, you might be following Belinda in one chapter and then not be with her till three chapters later and fifteen years have passed, her life may have changed a lot in that time and it’s through memories and conversations that you learn what’s happened in that time you’ve been away from her.

All Day at the Movies is well-written and features a lot of complicated characters. Some are downright unlikable, but many of them feel like real people who make mistakes but still try their best. There’s some characters who seem awful but when you learn more about them, you feel some sympathy for them, but the story never absolves them of their actions. This book allows characters to have layers and flaws without redeeming them, giving you a story about people who occupy shades of grey.

All Day at the Movies is about family, how people can drift a part but also can come back together if they try. It’s about how one act can shape a generation and how they in turn see their loved ones and their own value. It’s a story that can be uncomfortable and harsh, but one that also offers a sense of hope that things can get better. 4/5.

All Day at the Movies is released today, 8th March 2018.

My IndieAthon TBR

Tomorrow the IndieAthon begins! This readathon was the brainchild of Lia from Lost in a Story, Marie from Lots of Livres, Eloise from Eloise Writes, Joel from Fictional Fates and Syd from Reading & Rambling. IndieAthon is a month long readathon in March where the aim is to read books that are self-published or from independent publishers. There’s a bingo card if you’d like an extra challenge and you can follow the IndieAthon Twitter account for more info.

I’ve got five books that I’d like to read during this readathon, which may be a surprise to some as I tend to set myself overambitious TBR’s but these five books are the only books from independent publishers I have close to hand right now.

The Hotel Tito by Ivana Bodrožić, published by Seven Stories Press, and So the Path Does Not Die by Pede Hollist, published by Jacaranda Books Art Music, are both recent purchases that I got on this years London Bookshop Crawl so it would be nice to read them as they’ve caught my interest so recently. I received All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman from the publisher, Gallic Books, to review. I’ve only just started it so this will be my first read of the readathon. Vengeance is Mine, All Others Pay Cash by Eka Kurniawan, published by Pushkin Press is a book I first picked up because of the striking cover. The fifth book isn’t pictured as it’s an ebook and that’s Reading the Ceiling by Dayo Forster, published by Dean Street Press.

At the end of last year, I posted about what Indie books I owned and wanted to read, but so far this year I don’t think I’ve read any books that are self-published or from independent publishers. The IndieAthon is the perfect opportunity to change that and to make a dent in my ever growing physical TBR.

Are you taking part in the IndieAthon? Do you think about who’s publishing the books you’re reading? I have to say I generally don’t. Following the #IndieAthon on Twitter looks like it’s going to be a good way to discover different independent publishers and learn more about indie books in general.