Tag Archives: culture

My Totem Came Calling by Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A teenage girl who begins to suffer from memory lapses and glimpses of a zebra that seemingly doesn’t exist journeys away from the city life she knows and seeks answers from her ancestral home and the grandmother who is more mysterious than she could have ever known in authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling”.

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The Synopsis

Chanda is a seventeen-year-old schoolgirl in Harare, Zimbabwe, who suddenly starts suffering from memory lapses, which become even more worrisome when she starts seeing a zebra in all sorts of places. The trouble is, nobody else can see it. Afraid of being institutionalized in a hospital, she follows the advice of an old aunt and sets off for her ancestral village, a primitive settlement with none of the amenities she is used to in the city. But there she meets the rest of her family, including her strange and mysterious grandmother, and learns the hard way who she really is—not a superficial, rich city girl with foreign habits but someone who is somebody, whose name carries a history of her African people.

The Review

This was such a brilliant and captivating read. The authors did a remarkable job of blending YA drama with a unique perspective of culture and mythology that kept the reader invested. Diving into strong themes of cultural clashes between Western religions and Old World belief systems, as well as the idea of honoring those who came before us and discovering our own voices and identities was strongly felt in this narrative. The powerful imagery and equally strong atmosphere help to drive the classic story of the hero’s journey meets a coming-of-age novel.

The focal point of the narrative has to be in the balance of character growth and culture that the authors infused into the story. The way Chanda begins to grow and evolve throughout the novel as she connects with this other side of her background and history and the way the authors explore both teenage life in Zimbabwe and the impact of the spiritual world on those who practice the old ways made this story feel alive on the page.

The Verdict

Captivating, engaging, and mind-blowing, authors Blessing Musariri and Thorsten Nesch’s “My Totem Came Calling” is a wonderful blend of YA drama that meets African culture and mythology. The evolution of the protagonist and the rich narrative that stems from this unique and vivid setting will keep the reader invested in this vibrant world, and the thrilling conclusion will keep readers hanging off of the author’s every word. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Blessing Musariri has published four children’s titles, two of which have won national awards. She writes short stories and poems, which have been published in various international anthologies and magazines. Some of her short stories were published in South African English textbooks for high schools, and have been translated for online magazines. She holds a Masters degree in Diplomatic Studies (with distinction) from the University of Westminster. She lives in Harare, Zimbabwe.

https://www.instagram.com/blessingmusariri/

Thorsten Nesch is an award winning German YA author. His first novel was nominated for Best German Debut. He has attended 1,500 readings at schools and in bookstores across Europe, and been on two tours on cruise ships. In 2017 he wrote and directed Derailed, a feature movie based on his novel. He lives in Lethbridge, Alberta, with his wife and children.

http://thorstennesch.com/

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07X6N8YM4/ref=x_gr_w_glide_sin?caller=Goodreads&callerLink=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.goodreads.com%2Fbook%2Fshow%2F44334116-my-totem-came-calling%3Fac%3D1%26from_search%3Dtrue%26qid%3D4aZYkj63XU%26rank%3D1&tag=x_gr_w_glide_sin-20

Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir by Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li take readers into the heart of modern-day Iceland as Sverrir goes on a voyage around the world in the same vein as his Viking ancestors in the book, “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir”.

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The Synopsis

This vivacious personal story captures the heart and soul of modern Iceland. Born in Reykjavik on the eve of the Second World War, Sverrir Sigurdsson watched Allied troops invade his country and turn it into a bulwark against Hitler’s advance toward North America. The country’s post-war transformation from an obscure, dirt-poor nation to a prosperous one became every Icelander’s success. Spurred by this favorable wind, Sverrir answered the call of his Viking forefathers, setting off on a voyage that took him around the world. Join him on his roaring adventures!

The Review

A truly magnificent and engaging read, this book really does capture the adventurous spirit and rich history of Iceland and author Sverrir’s Viking forefathers. The balance of history, culture, and life experiences through travel was great to see unfold here, from Sverrir’s family history to setting out into the world and studying in Finland, to making a life and home after years of travel with his wife and co-author Veronica Li, this book really does a great job of educating and allowing the reader to identify with the authors and their journeys. 

What really stuck out to me however was the way the authors managed to tie their more “modern” adventures around the world to the ancient Viking culture. As a people known for their travels and explorations, it was interesting to see the cultural note that so many Icelandic people have to make a name for themselves and learn from distant lands in order to bring more knowledge to their home country, in an effort to become the best. It felt like the perfect chord that brought the past and present together as one and really shows how ancient cultures still have an impact on our world today. 

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and culturally-driven memoir, authors Sverrir Sigurdsson and Veronica Li’s “Viking Voyager: An Icelandic Memoir” is a must-read book. The attention to detail really brought the personal and broader history of Iceland and the author to life, while the teamwork and chemistry of both authors and their writing styles allowed the information and culture of this book to be absorbed by the reader. Even the utilization of images and guides to highlight Iceland and its language was both informative and engrossing all at once. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Authors

Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.

Veronica Li emigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong as a teenager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and her master’s degree in International Affairs from Johns Hopkins University. She has worked as a journalist and for the World Bank, and is currently a writer. Her three previously published titles are: Nightfall in Mogadishu, Journey across the Four Seas: A Chinese Woman’s Search for Home, and Confucius Says: A Novel.

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