Jay and Oh- Episode05- ‘El Apasionado’

There’s a tiny spot of blood somewhere on his lower lip, where I bit him, obviously. I touch my lips and they’re swollen. 


I am nervous. Oye seems on the verge of telling me something important, something I dread. Certainly not because it’s bad news, but because it makes matters more complex. 

I’ve always liked Oye. Right from when he saved my arse in that Fulani History class three years ago. He seems so…. genuine. Not many guys I know are like that. They all seem to want to impress. They’d go out of their way to give a girl a high opinion of them. Not Oye. He’s not perfect, certainly. He does have the tendency to go on unsolicited rants from time to time, and he’s too quick to help people in need, not realising that they’re using him, most of the time anyways. He’s a really good guy. But that’s not why I like him, after all there are many good guys. 
He nervously licks his lips as he faces me. His eyes are fixed on mine, and he looks like someone who’s about to deliver news of impending doom. 
“I like you,” he begins. “Not just like, but like. Like like. I like you very much”. He says all this quickly, hardly breathing. 
Then more slowly, he continues, 
“You affect me in so many ways, Jane. I really don’t know why I feel this way about you… ” He trails off. 
“I like you so much it hurts. I can hardly think straight when you’re in close proximity. I see your face in my dreams every other night. I don’t know if it’s a passing fancy or it’s obsession. From all indications, the latter is the more likely.”
“Delicious thoughts of you permeate my lungs. If you were white, you’d probably blush at my thoughts of you, if you knew them.”
He pauses, then continues on, 
“There! I’ve gotten it all out. Now you know why I’m slightly uncomfortable around you. Now you know.”
He looks at me like he expects me to say something in return. Actually, I’m waiting for him to say the magic words, to ask…. 
He slowly regains his composure, sitting up straighter. His tone is all serious. 
“I’m sorry if that wasn’t what you expected. If you don’t want to be friends with me anymore, it’s alright.”
I can see the pain in his eyes, the desire, the hunger. It’s obvious he’s scared of it. But what he doesn’t know is that I’ve been waiting for those words for a long while, anticipating them, while at the same time dreading them. 
“Please say something, Jane”, he says. 
It’s all too much for me to bear. Before I can gather my thoughts, my lips are on his, kissing him. He groans, surely surprised. And then, he begins to kiss me back. My hands move to grasp the sides of his face. His tongue is searching, caressing all of the nooks and crannies of the inside of my mouth, and I moan softly with pleasure. 
Lost in the pleasure of the moment, the kiss becomes more intense. It’s not a chaste kiss, the kind husbands give to their wives when leaving home for work. It’s not a telenovela kiss either, the kind with a lot of style and finesse. It’s a hungry kiss. If you’ve a wild imagination like mine, and you’ve ever wondered how a tiger kissing a lioness would be like, this is something close to it. 
Slowly, he pulls away from me. There’s a tiny spot of blood somewhere on his lower lip, where I bit him, obviously. I touch my lips and they’re swollen. 
“That’s my reply. Would you like to try again?”, I ask. 
He looks at me for a split second, and then pulls my face closer, whispering into my ear. 
“Be my guest”. 
Once again, our lips are locked together in a most intense kiss. My hands move of their own accord, pulling off his shirt. He obliges, only pausing for a few seconds to help me get his shirt off. My hands move hungrily around his hard torso. He’s not packed with muscle as you’d expect, what with the speed at which I attacked his shirt. He’s lean, in a hard way, just the way I like it. 
Not satisfied with just his upper body, my hands, the rebellious beasts they are, move lower, searching for his belt buckle, seeking to unleash the beast beneath.

Book Review: Spellslinger (Spellslinger #1) by Sebastian de Castell 

..betrayal, and the classical (primeval even), everlasting human struggle for power.

​”We are such a small people, I thought. For all our magic, we’re scared, paranoid little children trying to protect ourselves from the bullies of the world by becoming bigger bullies ourselves.”

Spellslinger is another fast-paced, thrilling read from an author who’s mastered the art of Literary Thrill

The most easily observable feature of Spellslinger among those in the know is that it is totally different from Greatcoats. Yes there’s the smart-ass lead character, and more than sprinklings of humour every now and then. But in general, Spellslinger offers something different. 

For one, there’s a lot of magic. The author does admirably well in his creation of a magic system for a relatively small book. It’s not overly complex, it’s best feature is it’s originality. 

The plot themes draw inspiration from unique human behavior in unique circumstances, There are questions of loyalty; questions of allegiance to family or nations, and tough choices brought about by tough circumstances. There is betrayal, and the classical (primeval even), everlasting human struggle for power, 

Spellslinger features two incredible characters: The lead character who is intriguingly unpredictable, capable of inspiring both frustratration and intense favouritism in equal measure, and a defiant character who ideology is to face life’s obstacles and curveballs head on with little dread and an almost reckless determination. 

De Castell’s trademark masterful plot twists pervade this brilliant read. A brilliant start to a brave, brave tale. 

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

The evils, intricacies, ironies and grim facts of the system are in stark contrast with the matter-of-factly manner in which it is delivered.

One would be forgiven for thinking this book was written by a full time author. It was only after reading that I checked and discovered the author was a comedian. Well, that should explain the humour aplenty in the book… 
Born a Crime tells the story of a mixed boy growing up under South African Apartheid. Although littered with plenty of funny quips and rib cracking statements, Born a Crime does not fail to give a vivid overview of the racial system that so dominated the entire South African system. 
The book is written from the POV of the author, who is the subject of the book. The writing is not static, neither is it progressive like normal prose. The prose jumps from different events and scenes, following a trend of linked themes, rather than chronicling events in a linear manner. 
The story is an apartheid eye opener. The evils, intricacies, ironies and grim facts of the system are in stark contrast with the matter-of-factly manner in which it is delivered. The end result is a hilariously chilling expose into the unbelievably tough upbringing of a young boy of mixed heritage in South Africa. 
As I commence my post-read mullings, I cannot help but wonder how it would have been for me, growing up in such circumstances. The ironic thing is that many Africans can draw parallels with Trevor Noah’s upbringing, even if only in the slightest of ways. One begins to realise that the African experience is quite similar even in places as distant from the other as Nigeria and South Africa. 
Highly recommended!

Jay and Oh- Episode 04- What’s Up?

And just like that, Jane puts me in a tight corner. I haven’t been able to summon up courage to tell Jane how I feel about her. Yet. Now, it seems like I have no choice.

There comes the sound of knocking from the door, and I immediately snap out of my temporary hypnosis. 
My friend Gent walks in. His eyes immediately zero in on Jane. 
“Hello… guys!” he exclaims, his voice a note or two higher than usual. 
“Hey”, I say by way of greeting. 
Gent is a good friend of mine. He also happens to know Jane, whom he got to meet through me. We’re together connected, myself and Gent, in our mutual love for console gaming. 
From personal experience, I find that people make friends with who they regularly game with. When you’re in the middle of Modern Combat or FIFA happily/furiously thumbing away without a care in the world, there’s a type of clarity that comes with the moment, and the activity. 
Jane stands up, smiling down at Gent. As it happens, Gent is five-feet-six-inches tall. In a staring-down contest, he’d stand virtually no chance of defeating a six-feet tall girl like Jane. It’s amusing, watching them address each other. Jane looks him up and down smilingly. Coupled with the mini giant versus Goliath effect, the scenario is very much like that of a predator closely observing prey. 
Gent and Jane exchange pleasantries, and a few minutes later the three of us are deep into conversation. The topics switch at random, a huge tree trunk diverting into multiple smaller branches, each with even more smaller, more varied branches. 
We’re each seated a few inches from the other, with Gent to my side seated on my bed, and Jane sitting on the opposite sofa. 
After a while, the flow of conversation slows to a trickle. We each pick up our phones and begin checking social media updates. I plug in one earphone, and begin streaming the latest hip-hop tracks from Deezer. Being a great lover of music, I make it a point to subscribe to the streaming service every month. 
A message comes in, and I scroll to check it. 
“Hey”, the text reads. It’s from Jane. 
I instinctively look up at her pointedly, it’s not every time you text someone who’s seating only a few inches from you. She doesn’t look up. 
Mildly surprised, I glance at Gent, who seems too engrossed in his web surfing to notice my expression. 
“What’s up?” I type in reply. 
“Gent does seem to have a knack for being in the right place at the wrong time”
“He most likely just came to say hi, he should be off soon”
“Okay. So are you going to tell me why you were staring so hard at my face?”
I’m surprised at the swift change of topic. Frowning slightly, I type, 
“How’d you know I was looking at you? Your eyes were averted. You were staring at your phone.”
“Really”. A flat-faced expression smiley. 
“Okay, I was only looking at your eyes”. 
“Ah…. I see”
I wait to see if she’ll add anything. She doesn’t. Instead she looks up from her phone, facing me. There’s a mischievous light dancing in her eyes. 
“So, what’s so special about my eyes?”, she replies. 
“Well… they’re… okay. How else do you want them to be?”
“You were staring at my lips”
I swallow nervously. 
“Well, maybe a little”. 
“Tell me about it”. 
I pause thoughtfully for a short while, then I continue. I’ve been looking for a chance to give Jane a hint of how I’ve lately come to feel about her. I guess this is one chance. 
“You have a really fine mouth. I was just… looking at it. Nothing more”
“Hmm, so are there any other parts of me you admire, other than my lips?”
“Do you really want to go into all that?”
“Try me”
“Well, I’d say I like your physique”. 
She doesn’t reply. 
A few minutes later, Gent rises from beside me, announcing that he has somewhere else to be. 
“I’ll come around tonight” he says . He shoots Jane a glance before he leaves. The glance is so quick that I almost miss it. 
At the time, I didn’t know exactly why my friend left abruptly. But, as I later came to see, you cannot underestimate the manipulation skills of the the female subspecies. 
Almost immediately after Gent steps out, Jane drops her phone, faces me and says, 
“So, I’m all ears. You were saying…?”
“What? You know what I said,” I reply. 
She begins slowly closing the gap between us, until she finally sits beside me. Looking me in the eye, she says, 
“Don’t play ignorant with me. I’m not blind, and I’m not dumb. I see the way you look at me. I notice how often you lick your lips when I’m around you. It’s almost like you’re uncomfortable. If I was being extreme, I would say you’re downright scared. 
“I… ” I fail to properly form words to say, so shocked am I with her bluntness. 
Her looks soften, and she looks away. If I didn’t know better, I’d say she just became nervous. 
“Do you find me attractive?”, she blurts out. 
And just like that, Jane puts me in a tight corner. I haven’t been able to summon up courage to tell Jane how I feel about her. Yet. Now, it seems like I have no choice. I’ll have to tell her now, and she’ll laugh at my wild imaginations. I never thought I’d be lucky enough to have Jane feel the same way about me. But now, a different thought begins to occur to me. The thought that she just might like me a little bit, at least enough to not laugh at me when I tell her how I feel about her. 
And so right there, I begin to bare my soul to Jane.

Book Review: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time #14) by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan 

…readers can rest easy in the knowledge that the Wheel of Time still turns, and the Ages still come and pass, bringing memories that do not fail to fascinate and inspire with every read. 

It’s official! Wheel of Time is bae!! 
This is not going to be a review of only A Memory of Light, but rather a review of the series as a whole. Finishing the series feels so much like the end of a long, long journey. In truth, it’s been a long journey: spanning almost a whole year of reading (with the initial reading and subsequent rereading of the series), one paperback, many ebooks, a couple of audiobooks, hundreds of thousands of stone faced Aiel, a hundred or so other nations, peoples and cultures, memorable villains and protagonists, and about two years worth of plot progress. It really has been a long, long ride. 

The series is more than epic. The sheer scope of the the entire thing is staggering, mind blowing. It’s hard to imagine one man putting together something as vast as this. Kudos to the author! WoT should be a constant challenge to other fantasy writers. Despite its brilliance, it would be totally unfair to judge other epic fantasy series using WoT as a yardstick. Here, I’d simply say “other series have done well, but WoT surpasses them all”. Does this mean WoT is officially my best ever fantasy series? The answer is a resounding YES!

There are so many elements that make this series so different from others. One is the relative youth of the major players. Rand, Mat, Perrin, Elayne, Egwene, Galad, Gawyn, and Nynaeve all seem to be between the ages of 18 and 26 at the start of the series, with an average of about 22 years between them. The development of the characters is done in such a manner that it belies their youth. The characters actually develop very quickly; the length of the books, and volume of action and events give the illusion of a slow and steady development. 

Second, there a whole lot of cultural diversity. The different peoples have different clothing styles, modes of speech, variants of humour, as well as unique trends. Domani women are known to be skilled at the arts of seduction, the Tairens have a distinct way of speaking obvious even in the writing of the author, Cairhienin are short and skilled at political maneuvering, the Aiel have a strange, violent sense of humour… the list goes on. The best part is that you come to understand and appreciate these cultural differences like you come to appreciate various cultural elements in the real world, such as the Chinese general respect for old people, and American individualism. The details of each culture are not glossed over, but rather described in detail, until it is seen in every aspect of the respective subjects. 

A third feature of the series is the fact that although the author does not specifically outline it, all of the protagonists are flawed. Many readers make the mistake of assuming that WoT protagonists are too perfect, too skilled. My reread of the series has proven the opposite. Gawyn is plagued by a need to constantly prove himself to others, and is also untrusting. These two qualities prove to be his undoing in the long run. Galad, despite being an excellent duelist is exposed in his style of leadership. As a person preferring to lead from a distance by example, he fails to impact the bulk of those around him. Galad’s honourable and seemingly perfect nature are ironically the main factors behind his staunch pragmatic stance on nearly everything, a stance that gets him in trouble many times while also creating problems for those around him. Perrin’s weakness stems from an inability to accept who he has become. Egwene is proud, and overconfident. Nynaeve and Rand are similar, compassionate, yet volatile. The examples go on and on. 

A major theme throughout the book is a struggle of wills between three groups of extremely stong women. Generally, the book has some of the strongest female characters in the literary genre. Even the ones with less bite and grit are far more clever than most of the male characters. It makes for a fascinating and fresh read. 

Just as well, there is the concept of dual personality. A lot of the characters, especially the main antagonists sport multiple personalities. In addition, there is the concept of fate and destiny, two of the most recurring themes in the series.

There is also a distinction in the way oaths are viewed in the series. As one of the few cultural universals in the books, oaths are incredibly binding, seen as near sacred, and taken with utmost seriousness. Many of the subplots deal with oaths and their effects on characters. 

Another major theme is the unique fighting system that employs the use of Sword-Forms. As a unique way of describing battle scenes, it paints quite vivid as well as distinct mental pictures. Apple Blossoms in the Wind, Wind Blows over the Wall and Hummingbird Kisses the Honeyrose might seem odd ways to describe moves in sword fights, but they definitely paint a brilliant picture once one gets used to them.

The world of WoT is a dream world. It lures unsuspecting readers in and doesn’t let go, until they fall in love and wish they could just exist there forever. Personally, I would give up a huge chunk of my life just to live the world of WoT. 

Unfortunately, AMoL did not end how I’d like, although the battle scenes were brilliant, and the Last Battle was just how I imagined it would be from when it became obvious there would be a Last Battle. Unfortunately, the main author is dead, so there is no hope of a sequel series. But then, readers can rest easy in the knowledge that the Wheel of Time still turns, and the Ages still come and pass, bringing memories that do not fail to fascinate and inspire with every read. 

Good news! A TV Adaptation is on the way. I just hope they don’t botch it.

Book Review: Words of Radiance (Stormlight Archive #2) by Brandon Sanderson 

Words of Radiance, impossible as it seems, has managed to surpass the dizzying heights of Way of Kings

… a conglomeration of exquisite world-building, unpredictable characters and sweet, sweet magic. 

Words of Radiance, impossible as it seems, has managed to surpass the dizzying heights of Way of Kings. The characters are better developed, and the magic system is gradually melding with the plot. 

The build-up is just as lengthy as in Way of Kings, but the climax is far more intense. There are numerous plot twists, not at the middle, but at the very end of the book. 

The plot deals with a great number of themes: betrayals, hate, morality, and honor. The plot is incredibly complex, relying heavily on the multiple blurred protagonists and villains and a lot of myth and lore. 

The characters, despite their awesomeness, are greatly flawed. This is not a good vs evil book. The actions of the supposed protagonists lie somewhere between perceived good, and outright selfishness. This means the characters aren’t particularly G.R.R Martin-grey. They’re judged based on their perceptions of their own deeds. It makes for a seemingly character-driven plot line. 

The best part of the book is the magic. Quite simply, this is the best book of magic I’ve ever read. I can say confidently that the magic system of Stormlight Archive is the best I’ve ever seen in Fantasy Fiction. And it’s only going to get better! 

Jay and Oh – Episode 03- Smartmouth 

Three years ago... 

I met Jane on a Friday, in Fulani History class. She was already late for the class when she ran in, panting slightly. Naturally, she drew the attention of half the class as she tried to quickly get settled down. 
“Why are you late to my class, Miss…”, Professor Grim drawled.
“Jane, ma. Jane”, she replied. 
It occurred to me that there was not a hint of panic in her voice. She was calm, not something you would expect of a Varsity freshman having to face the ire of a generally-dreaded-by-all Professor. 
“You haven’t answered my question, Miss Jane. I’m not fond of repeating myself ”, said Grim. 
“I’m sorry”, she said hurriedly. Then more slowly, “I woke up late, to be honest. I couldn’t have gotten here any earlier. It won’t happen again.”
And just like that, the new girl landed herself in trouble. There are two things you don’t do as regards Professor Grim. You don’t speak to her unless she first speaks to you. And you most certainly have to address her by her title of “Professor.” Simply put, you have to regularly punctuate every sentence you say to her with the honorific. Always, without fail. 
I unconsciously sucked in breath sharply. I turned to face the Professor, who was quietly observing the new girl. Suddenly, it went through my mind that something important was going to happen that day. I dismissed the thought, without a thought. 
Professor Grim began to walk towards Jane. Her slow, short steps echoed in the soft clack-clack sound of her heels clattering the floor. The class death quiet, all eyes turned to the back of the lecture room where Professor Grim stood facing Jane. She had crossed the distance between the podium and Jane in the time it took between a few heartbeats. 
Stunned, I watched on, as fascinated with the sure drama about to unfold here as other members of the class were. 
They stood a few centimetres from each other, with Professor Grim glaring in an evil, yet cool look. That meant big trouble. Jane stood opposite, trying to look anywhere but at the angry Professor standing right in front of her. 

“And who do you think you are’, asked Professor Grim cooly, “coming in late,  and disrupting the concentration of my class? Are you so rude and uncouth as to address me in such a manner? Perhaps, I should ask you to leave my class”
Here I must commend Jane. She took this all in without flinching, where lesser people would be cringing in fear. Despite the show of bravery, her face took on a haunted look as she frantically searched the eyes of members of the class. Her eyes were questioning, hopeful for someone to mouth a few words to her on how to placate the Professor. Most people turned their eyes away, afraid to meet her eyes, perhaps afraid that exchanging glances with the new girl would somehow bring down the ire of the Professor on them. 
Slowly, her eyes turned to mine, and everything slowed down. 
I found myself unable to tear my gaze away from her, so pleading did her eyes look. I mouthed the magic words to her. A series of emotions ran through her face, from understanding to, gratitude and determination. 
She visibly steeled herself and faced the Professor. 
“I tender my deepest apologies, Professor. I regret my thoughtless words, and humbly seek your forgiveness.” 
“Professor”, she adds a split second later.

 Professor Grim watched the new girl’s pathetic show of humility with a chilling coldness. It was a blatant show of insubordination, Jane’s apology was. I half-thought the Professor would somehow obliterate her on the spot, what with the way she was looking at her. 

After a few tense moments of Jane staring at the floor, and Professor Grim staring daggers at her, the Professor draws smoothly away. 
“Settle down”, she said dryly. 
Adding a threat to the dismissal she said, “Come late again to my class and you won’t be writing Fulani History exams, I can promise you that. With that ringing in the ears of everyone in the class, Jane certainly most of all, she headed back to the front of the class to continue her teaching. 

The class continued as if the disruption had never occurred. Midway through the final fifth of the period ,I took permission to go use the male toilet. My tummy was rumbling like a smoking crater, ready for eruption. It must have been a result of a certain proteinous meal I consumed earlier that morning. By the time I got back, the class was already over. People were exchanging greetings with one another, and the class was in a mini-uproar. It distantly occurred to me that the new girl was nowhere in sight. Brushing aside the thought, I moved to my chair to retrieve my books and bag. Picking up the white paperback History of the Fulani by Professor Samirah Grim, I noticed something written on the back of my book. It was in flowing script penned in black ink. I read it, initial surprise gradually turning into amusement. The script read:

“Thank you! I can’t believe that snotty Professor almost had me. You saved me back there, and you have my thanks. By the way, your dressing is totally horrifying. You don’t wear formal trousers on sneakers. You wear jeans!”

“Thank you! I can’t believe that snotty Professor almost had me. You saved me back there, and you have my thanks. By the way, your dressing is totally horrifying. You don’t wear formal trousers on sneakers. You wear jeans!”

Yours truly, J.

I couldn’t stop myself from laughing. It appeared the new girl was not just cheeky and smart, but daring and unpredictable as well. 
When I think about when I first started liking Jane, although I was unaware of it at the time, I realise it was from that minute after reading her message penned on my book.