I really related to Birds of Uganda, due to its East African setting. The descriptions of the country, the people, the markets, the food, the towns, the weather, were familiar to me, because I was born in Nyasaland,  a small country to the south of Uganda, but nonetheless somewhat  East African . The themes of colonialism, racism, and workplace bullying loom large, but luckily the human interest aspect was more predominant, the  knots and tangles of family relationships, a love story.

And I am Sovereign fizzed across my life in spectacular style. Loved it!


I am Sovereign – Nicola Barker. Wonderful – the novel reinvented. Funny, original ,fresh.See my review on this site on 19 August. Rave, Rave, Rave.

We are all Birds of Uganda – Hafsa Zayyan . Hard to believe it’s a  Debut novel.  Second and Third generation Asians were kicked out of Uganda by dictator Idi Amin in 1972 , and reluctantly re-homed by Britain.  The slow exploration of an Indian family’s past, and struggles with the younger generation in the  present, made for an engrossing family saga. Recommended.

Mobile Library – David Whitehouse. A cracking adventure story  combined with a coming-of-age theme, plus a  homage to  books, childhood classics,  and adventure stories, that we all loved.  An exciting contemporary read, with a satisfying ending.  Recommended.

The Reunion – Joanne Fedler. Seven women friends rendezvous in a country house on a weekend getaway. Secrets and stories are aired and shared about motherhood, marriage, men, triumphs, and tragedies.  The narrator gets very personal and intense, too much so on occasion.The major takeaways were: the male species is a mystery, teenagers are monsters, and women do the best they can against massive odds. Men will run a mile from the book, women will embrace it.

The Scandalous Times of a Book Louse. A memoir of a childhood – Robert Muponde. Growing up in rural Zimbabwe during the 1970s and 80s.  If you want to find out about growing up in a large, poverty stricken rural African family then read the book. But be prepared for full on, no holds barred, raw, vivid,  story telling. Between the folktales, songs and poems, there’s plenty of violence (against children!) animal cruelty, and sex. Sensitive readers will not enjoy the book.

Endurance – A C Spahn. (e-book) Refreshing to find a space opera written by a woman who gives us the entire gamut of purple, Space Opera,  heroic action and  glory with an old, battered space ship, a disgraced Captain, a crew of misfit geniuses,  plus aliens with tentacles, and more. Lotsa fun!  One for the SF fans.  

The Girl in the Red Dress – Ann Tyler. Ordinary people living ordinary lives; finnicky middle aged PC techie mucks up his tepid  romantic  relationship. Not a rave read for me.  

6 thoughts on “AUGUST 2021 READING ROUND-UP

  1. It looks as though your August was quite productive, reading-wise! Nicola Barker is one of those writers who’s been on my “must get to her list” for years and years; needless to say I haven’t yet managed it (have read lots of reviews of her work, however). I did start The Yips when it popped up on the Booker list, but life intruded and I put it aside. I also had a copy of Darkmans but was deterred by its length — as I recall it was hundreds of pages long. Your list here, however, brings Barker back to mind and perhaps I’ll give her another go.
    Birds of Uganda sounds extremely interesting. Have you read V.S. Naipaul’s Bend in the River? A much older work but, like Birds, it gives some insight (albeit male & very pessimistic) of the colonial experience. I’m not a big Naipaul fan, but I recall that I found Bend very impressive when I read it years back.
    Unlike you, I am a fan of Anne Tyler (used to live right down the road from her, in a manner of speaking. She’s very Baltimore and I lived in Washington, D.C. for many years). I can certainly understand that she’s not everyone’s cup of tea however; in fact, after a period in which I read everything she published, I really gave her a rest and never quite made it back. I haven’t read Redhead, which has gotten great reviews, but I probably will in the next few months.
    I do share your love of space opera, although I don’t read it much anymore. Sci-fi has become incredibly more sophisticated a genre from the days when I was an avid reader of my dad’s mass market trove of golden age greats (Asimov; Heinlein; van Voght; Poul Anderson; Jack Vance; Leigh Brackett and so on). I enjoy the new themes and (I must admit) more polished writing but — there are times when nothing but good old space opera will do! A.C. Spahn has not previously come my way, so I will definitely check her out! (as you say, it’s nice to see a woman working in this genre).


    1. Hello! Great to receive such a long comment on a Reading Round Up. Appreciated.
      I received book vouchers for my birthday & flirting with the idea of Darkmans, or maybe H(appy). I have to order her books on line, as avant garde writers do not go down well on South African bookshelves.
      V S Naipaul? I’m aware of him; watched a good TV doccie on his life recently; b currently I’m not in the mood for cantankerous male authors, when there are so many good modern writers.
      I too hoovered up the golden age SF classics – but more British than American – Eric (or was it A? Mann, Brian Aldiss, John Wyndham, Douglas Adams, but also Vonnegut, Zelatzny, some Asimov, Heinlen; in fact his Stranger in a Strange Land was banned in SA! a friend lent the book to me, discreetly covered in a brown paper jacket …..


  2. I’m afraid I’m too lazy these days to post much on my own blog, so I take advantage of others’ work by enjoying their writing and leaving comments on what I find interesting (which always includes what they are reading).
    I’ve lived in small, homogenous communities and remote areas (although long ago) where any “book store” was mostly stocked with best sellers, cook books and self-help missives (I think we’re all supposed to be leaning in on something these days, not to mention maximizing our potential). I know everyone hates Amazon but . . . honestly, it does fill a need.
    I had a dear friend who loved Naipaul & introduced me to his work. As I said, it never quite “took” although I do appreciate Naipaul’s talent, not to mention the (to me, at any rate) exotic settings.
    I actually have read a few of the British SF writers if they turned up in my dad’s pile, i.e., were re-published in the U.S. I remember Aldiss & Zelatzny particularly. Ah yes, Stanger in a Strange Land, the book in which dear Robert discovered sex! So funny to think of it wrapped in a brown paper jacket!

    Liked by 1 person

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