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The Writing of my Place in History

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Funniest Book I Read: The Last Black Unicorn – Tiffany Haddish

Tiffany Haddish The Last Black Unicorn book

If you have watched Girls Trip (yes, I have a feminine side), you know Tiffany Haddish. She was my favourite character in the movie, mostly because she was so natural in the way she brought out her fun… and she was cute. 🙂

So, I looked her up, and learned she has a book that had really good reviews. The reviews said it was a funny book, the story of her life and how she became a top comedian and actor. I was interested, and got the book.

The Black Unicorn is one of those books you don’t want to put down. The book you sacrifice browsing internet in the toilet for. A book you leave the car at home to read in the matatu for.

It’s in the way it flows in her own voice. It’s said if you want to be a great writer, write the way you talk. That’s how she has written the book, and being a funny comedian, you can imagine how it comes out.

Basically, The Black Unicorn is Tiffany’s life story. It’s much more dramatic than my Random Life Memories and Nairobi Initiation.

It’s supposed to be sad because her father (from hapa tu Eritrea) was a dead beat, and her mother had an accident and messed her brain. So, she had to go through the famed American Foster system: living with people who often abused in more ways than just sexually.

Tiffany Haddish

The Last Black Unicorn Cover

Tiffany Haddish and Men

Speaking of sex, she speaks about the men she’s had sex with as casually as you would talk about the ugali and sukuma you ate in college. That’s including a disabled guy who did it so well it’s the best she’s ever had. She also became a very successful pimp.

Tiffany is clearly not lucky with men. She married a guy who became a pimp and started cheating on her… And her revenge was vicious. Then she married a ugly guy she met on a cruise who used to beat her like a burukenge (what did burukenges ever do to people to get so beat?) She was abused for a long time, but somehow stayed on in the marriage. Actually, they divorced and remarried. Celebrities too go through very bad private lives that people don’t know about. Usione YouTube na Instagram.

But all this only shaped Tiffany Haddish into the acclaimed actor and comedian she is now. Because she started school comedy as a means to an end, started going bar mitzvahs to support herself and her family, and her comedy is her life. She would basically tell about her life and people would laugh. Speak about using your challenges as your springboard to success.

This is how she got the role in Girls Trip. And rocked it. You should read to her behind the scenes. How she met Jada Pinkett and Will Smith and they tried to make her live like a Hollywood star – because she was too ghetto for the red carpet life. You know, get an assistant, wear designer clothes, have a proper diary and such. And she was resisting it so much it’s crazy. Because she was always stoned on weed.

Oh, it’s a very vulgar and graphic book. Don’t read it if you are offended by mouthfuls of fucks and shits. If you are intrigued enough to want to read it, ongea na mimi vizuri. I will hook you up.  🙂

Book I read: The Biography of Paulo Coelho – A Warrior’s Life

Paulo Coelho biography

One fine morning, on my way to work, I found our estate watchman reading a huge book with a black cover and was curious. You see, I always found him reading mainstream best selling authors (the ones we loved in high school like Jeffrey Archer, Sydney Sheldon – I found him reading a James Hardly Chase with those hot cover images one time). That guy is a reader. And readers are in my heart.

Back to the big black book. It turned out to be the biography of who else? THE Paulo Coelho. Of course you know Paulo Coelho, and you would pause to have a serious look at it. You also wouldn’t leave it at the Inama Bookshop even if the price were a whole 200 bob, would you? Especially if you are Esther Kute – when I was at Bata, she made me download all pirated ebooks of Paulo Coelho I could find online. And she keeps tweeting his books.

If you are a wannabe writer like me, the biography of possibly the biggest writer ever is not something you would leave. You would want to know how he started, how he wrote his first book (btw, I have been writing my first book since I knew how to write back in primary school). How he sold all the millions he sold. What his inspirations are.

And so, I asked him if he could swap the book for the one I had in my bag – one of those Harlequin romance novels… and he agreed! Either he was bored with the biography, or he wanted to have a rush of blood. Those Harlequins are very very steamy.

First thing I did was take a picture of the book and tweet it at Esther Kute. Gloaty much? And went on to read it every day for two weeks. I stopped driving to work and started taking the slowest matatus just so that I could have enough time to dip myself into the life of Paulo Coelho.

And I learnt that Paulo Coelho is one of the most fucked up people you will ever hear about. That guy is gross, and has lived just the life. Made me wonder if one needs to be that screwed up to the a famous writer.

Because his experiences gave birth to all his books.

The writer, Fernando Morais describes Paulo Coelho’s from his miraculous birth. He was pronounced dead at birth by doctors, but his mom’s prayers brought him back (believe in prayer, folks). He was an awkward child, huge not-so-good-looking head (like mine back in the day)… And too troublesome.

Paulo Coelho biography - A Warrior's Life

But he was still a good writer as a kid; telling his parents that he wanted to be a writer when he grew up. Which they were against because his father was an engineer and they wanted him to follow in those steps.

This writing passion burner through his heart and mind through the years, writing his diary religiously… And failing in all schools went to. His mind was elsewhere; drugs, wanton sex and writing.

So much so that he spent several months in a pyschiatric hospital because, he was literally mad.

Not that it changed him, because Paulo Coelho went deeper into drugs, a hippie sex life, conning, cultism and Devil Worship.

Oh… and a two time prisoner of Brazil’s dictatorship, not for his right against the government – Paulo Coelho was a coward – but one time for a mistaken identity and the other for his lyrics. He made his riches writing lyrics for several music stars like Raul Seixas (my new favourite rockstar).

For him, life was one huge experiment. He traveled the world, tried different religions, and listened to the voices in his head.

Most importantly. Like the boy in his book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho followed and achieved his dream.

He became a great writer.

The book is a great one. It’s a very graphic account of the life of a writer who went against the odds to become a writer.

I recommend.

Paulo Coelho found a place in my Stolen and Gifted Books Shelf

It found a place in my Stolen and Gifted Books Shelf

My 2017 Report Card

Frankmwenda's year 2017

How time flies. Just the other day, I was recapping 2016… and then just as I blinked, 2017 was gone and we were singing Feliz Navidad (or whatever that Chriostmas song says. And now we are in 2018. Older. Better? More experienced?

So, what are the things that happened in 2017?

Switched jobs

You probably knew that I was working for one of the top e-commerce companies around – Kilimall – handling things I had not  previously handled full time, PR and Affiliate Marketing. It was a good run, totally loved what I did and what I was accomplishing, I mean, I got more media and celeb contacts in my phonebook than you, I went live on radio a couple of times, newspaper mentions, etc… and that was quite something for me and my clan. Oh, and then I started handling all the marketing over there. Man, that was a good run.

But then I moved in September, to something else that is even closer to my heart… Digital Marketing for businesses. Yep, that’s what I am doing now – helping SMEs grow their businesses online. Why am I doing this? I want to impact more businesses through the SME-empowering Africa 118 that I’m now working with, and I want to learn more, grow more. That, right there, has been my driving force every time. Learn something new, grow.

Let’s grow!

Lost my grandmother, Beaty.

God has blessed me… And I don’t take it for granted that His mercies stay with me, and my family. True, we have lost some people in our family, I have lost close friends… But the closest I have lost was my grandmother, just in December when we thought we were riding to 2018. And I don’t want to use the name “lost” because, hey, she was in her 80s, she had lived her life to the fullest. She has seen her grandchildren and great grandchildren and she wasn’t in pain. We chose to celebrate her instead of mourning, and what a party her funeral was! Even for her husband, my grandfather.

The biggest lesson I learnt from the pastor at her funeral is this: Every life is like a record player (kinada) back in the days. The owner comes with his kinada, you dance the party, and when the time comes and the owner takes his kinada away, you should try as much as possible to appreciate the dance that kinada gave you, rather than catch feelings because the owner had taken his kinada. My grandmother was the kinada God gave us, He took his kinada away and all we can do is appreciate the dance.

I will miss her roast bananas and the tea we used to drink together.

Read more, wrote more

At the beginning of last year, I wrote out a resolution on this blog – that I would read a 2-4 books every month and write about it here. Well, I succeeded to do that, halfway… Resolutions are for breaking, anyway. I read a lot of books, I think I read more books than I had said I would read, but I ran out of steam to write about them halfway through the year.

I think I also wrote more than I wrote the previous year. I was running this blog, The Ameru, the Kilimall blog ( I think, unfortunately, they deactivated it after I left) and helped out with the Ability Africa Magazine blog. I also wrote a lot of answers on Quora. Speaking of Quora, I fell in love with Quora in 2017. Lots of good questions and remarkable answers. I have written a couple that did quite well.

I won’t say I’ll be writing lots of books reviews this year, but, one thing I promise myself is, I will read more books, more articles. Because books are the way to knowledge… starting with the Bible.

The Ameru went big

Speaking of writing The Ameru blog, 2017 was the year The Ameru broke out as a darling blog for the people from Meru, and us, the writers: Kendi, Brian and myself. We researched culture, interviewed people, visited places and wrote lots of stories that we felt good about (no gossip). We learnt more about our roots, and the inspirational people, and the readers appreciated. Several others wanted to be part of it (btw, our doors are open to anyone) but most chickened out, because we are a bit particular with what we write, which is okay.

BAKE Awards nomination was the culmination of a good work done. And we’ll keep doing it this year.

 It’s a girl!

The best thing that happened to me this year (ever?) was becoming a father. Well, well…close your mouth…yes, I’m a father. It’s only that it was not shouted it at the market place. And hands down, my daughter is the most beautiful baby you will ever see. Where are the advertising people? 🙂

She was born in May, and since then, I have had a better focus on life, and I am a much better person. Her giggles and snuggles are the best feeling ever. And I’m trying to be the best dad ever, secure her future, protect her, give her the life I never had… and help her find her path. Remember the letter I wrote to her before she was born?

So, help me God.


Those were my highlights for last year-2017. What were yours?

I have plans for 2018. But plans are just thoughts to a human being. As long as I have the will, I trust God that this will be the best year yet, in my life.

Am I a Writer? Naah!

frog writerI am a reader, that I know. And again, you cannot prove if I am a good reader or not. But writer? Bla blah blah. 

Let’s take it back several steps.

Before I went to Nursery School, that’s what they were called back then before someone thought of THREE kindergartens before going to Class 1 – I was three years old, and before I went to my first class, I already knew how to write the alphabet, my name, and both my parents’ names. Perks of a first-born? Right. But, see, I was a writer before I knew how to speak.

I kept writing school stuff and reading story books in all languages including Kimeru’s Kagitûyû Kajîîgî na Johana Mûritu (The Cunning Hare and John the Illiterate).

My first book

Then little demons would whisper to me to write my own storybook. I got a few sheets of paper (paper was a rare commodity then because cutting off a page from a book was punishable by death) and I got the Class Artist – Lincoln Mtoto- to draw a few illustrations for my storybook in exchange for a maandazi or two, and I started writing my book. My plan was to write one copy and hire a few classmates to copy it into several copies that I could sell (publishing was an alien concept to me). I don’t remember what it was about, but I lost interest before I reached half my best seller.

frankmwenda kindergarten book

That shelved, I stayed in the non-creative wilderness that made me do tabia mbaya for some time, until I discovered Composition and Insha in Upper Primary. Guys, I could write. The teacher used to read my composition in class, and in other classes. One time, we did an interschool exam and my composition was read in the other two schools. I had this fantasy that my composition would be written in the KCPE newsletters to be read by the whole nation. A boy can dream. 🙂

High School

High school came and we started writing compositions in ink. Erasing wasn’t an option and you had to conceptualize your story before you started writing. The competition was stiffer now, with all the jogoos meeting in one place. Even the jogoos of the towns and academies. Slightly intimidating, but I immersed myself into serious writing and reading. Before long, I was the jogoo of my Miathene class too. I would give myself writing assignments, write and present to the teacher for scoring. I guess the teachers used to love reading my compositions.

Then came the letters. God, I used to write letters. Letters to girls. For myself and for my homies who wanted to score girls. For me, it was passion. Poetry. I was so obsessed, sometimes I would receive letters from girls, correct grammar and spelling mistakes, and send back to them. Some thought I was a total jerk, others thought it was fun. Not that I cared, I was a writer!

Shakespeare

I even wanted to become Shakespeare (we did his Merchant of Venice book for literature). In Form 3 and 4, I wrote my school plays for Drama Festivals. One competition day, at our sister school Mikinduri Girl’s, I asked the Drama teacher, Kibondo, to show me how my play looked like typed.

He answered me in that guttural voice of his: “Wewe Kibuacha wewe! Achana kutaka kutumia play kukatia girls. Use your mouth!”

Later I learned, kumbe Kibondo had added his name to the script as the author! And I knew this because my play was featured in the Sunday Nation newspaper. His name was on the paper instead of mine.

Still, in Form 4, I started the project of writing a new novel. This time I was dead serious, even talked to Longhorn Publishers when we went on a Journalism Club trip. The woman even told me they would publish it for free if it was good and then they would be paying me royalties. Mimi nani…I got an A4, 200-page book and wrote half of it in the three days before school holidays, you know, that time when we didn’t study because exams were done? But that’s all I wrote, I quit!

The manuscript is still on my bookshelf and when I read it last December, I realized how shady my high school mind was.

Blogging

writer frankmwenda

My next novel attempt was, of all places, when I was doing CPA I… while people got screwed by KASNEB the way KASNEB screws people, I was writing a thriller, day and night. I quit when I tried to give it to classmates to read and they said they had no time. Made me wonder what I was doing with my life writing a novel when I was supposed to be studying complex accounting math.

Then I came to Nairobi and saw MrsMwiti writing stories online, on a thing she called a blog. Made me so curious I started my own blog. I was becoming the writer I always wanted to become. My blog then was a political blog where I wrote Mutuma Mathiu-ish opinion pieces. I kept ranting about stuff happening in Kenya and honestly, in my mind, I thought I was going to make Kenya into a better country through my writing. Only that it didn’t. Corruption remained, Nairobi River remained dirty, football in Kenya was eaten to death, Kenyans still worshiped their tribal chiefs… and I quit!

This, here, was my blog and that’s how I named myself FrankKenyan.

Then I started writing a sports blog and I felt like that was my real niche. Kenyans even noticed and I was nominated for BAKE Awards 2012 for Best Sports Blog. Of course, I didn’t win, and I didn’t expect to win, but I was so disoriented that I decided to stop writing about sport. I quit again. Perrenial quitter, huh.

Writer Jobs

But I was happy for that, being nominated contributed highly in me getting my first real job – Social Media at Bata Shoe Company, where I continued writing a brand new Blog – This Blog – and the Bata Shoe Blog. I kept growing as a writer and started getting fans like you. May have been inconsistent, but I was growing. I didn’t even know what my blog was about before I wrote the Nairobi Initiation Series that you guys loved, and I was like, wait, my life has so many stories I can spend a lifetime writing about it. And you enjoy.

I have since written a lot of things, mostly blogs, that you may mistake me for a writer. (That said, if you want something written, talk to me – Bata, LIVELUVO, Kilimall, my pet blog Ameru, and many readers here will tell you I try 😉 )

But I am still not a writer. Writers write books and writers don’t quit… and everyone keeps telling me to write a book as if you guys buy Kenyan books. 🙂 Someone even told me I should do Nairobi Initiation as a book. Nawesmek?

Nah, I’m not a writer!

Medical May: Books I Read in May

Frankmwenda.com Medical books May

In May, I decided to look for Medical books. Not those long, technically boring books with the difficult words that made me not join KMTC, but novels. Stories told by some of the world’s most creative writers.

Read on:

Tell Me Your Dreams – Sidney Sheldon

Tell me your dreams Sidney Sheldon_MEDICAL BOOK

What if there were other independent people living in your body and you don’t know of their existence? What if these people hang out with different people, love different things, have sex with different people. And kill people without your knowledge?

Yes, that is real and it is called MultiplePersonality disorder (MPD) which is

a mental disorder characterised by at least two distinct and relatively enduring identities or dissociated personality states. These states alternately show in a person’s behaviour, accompanied by memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.

Now, in this story, in a way only Sidney Sheldon can tell, is about Ashley Patterson, an introverted workaholic, her co-workers, Toni Prescott, an outgoing singer and dancer, and shy artist Alette Peters… who are, of course living within her. Now, she… they… have killed 4 men in the same manner: castrated after having sex.

All evidence points to Ashley because, of course, she was there, there was vaginal evidence, and she was in possession of the murder weapon…. and the young, ambitious lawyer, David Singer puts his reputation on the line to prove that Toni and Alette are not Ashley.

What follows is one of the best medical, psychotic and legal drama I have ever read.

I read this novel in the commute, at work, at home in bed… everywhere. Because once you start reading Sidney Sheldon, you don’t just put Sidney Sheldon down.

Against Medical Advice (True Story) – James Patterson

Against Medical Advice - James Patterson _ a Medical Book

By now, if you read my Books series, you know I am a Patterson diehard. And since May was my Medical Month, I had to read a Patterson… only that this time it was a true, unfortunate story.

It is the life story of a seventeen-year-old guy, Cory Friedman, which started when he was five years old. One morning, Cory woke up with the uncontrollable urge to shake his head. From that day on, his life became a misery of such things. His body would just do things unexpectedly and uncontrollably, like walking like a spider, hopping around, clapping hands, rubbing his nose, climbing trees and involuntary utterances. This set him on fifteen years of medication upon medication, treatment upon treatment–a constantly changing regimen that left him and his family feeling like guinea pigs in an out-of-control experiment.

It soon became unclear which tics were symptoms of his condition and which were side effects of the countless combinations of drugs oscillating between  OCDTourette syndrome, and an anxiety disorder.

The only certainty was that it kept getting worse. Simply put: Cory Friedman’s life was a living hell.

Subjected to debilitating treatments and continuous ridicule, Cory became devastatingly aware of how he appeared to others. With the love of his family and the support of a few steadfast teachers and medical professionals, he fought for his very life, and you will cheer his amazing successes.

Btw, the other writer, Hal Friedman is Cory’s father, so the story is from the horse’s mouth.


That’s it. I could only read these medical books in a Month, lest I became a doctor. The rest were novels and Google stuff… but those don’t count as books, do they?


 

Books I read in March (and the book that Changed Me)

FRANKMWENDA books I read in March Reviews

The reading train continues! In March, I read 4 books (I am doing well, ain’t I?) One was kinda boring, even to my standards; the other was a short but intriguing novella; one was a lovely story that has changed my life… and the other remains a secret.

Read with me:

Firewall – Andy McNab

Books: Firewall Andy Mcnab

Last time, I told you I was in the middle of a bad book. Either, the month was drawing to a close and I was tired, or the book was really bad. Anyway, if you are a reader you know you can’t leave a book once you’ve started reading it. It’s like movies and movie lovers.

Basically, Firewall is the story of a disgraced British Intelligence operative Nick Stone who needs money; to pay for the treatment of his traumatized step-daughter – and he doesn’t mind what he does to get it. Even if it means kidnapping a powerful Russian crime boss. But as the operation begins to fall apart Nick finds it harder to identify who the good guys are. And so Stone is thrust into the grim underworld of Estonia, with unknown aggressors stalking the landscape. Russia has launched a cyber-espionage attack, hacking into the West’s most sensitive military secrets. Stone must stop them. But the mafia are waiting in the wings with their own brutal solutions.

Good storyline, right? With all the things we love – thrilling, computer hacking, some sex… but, I hated the flow, the language used… and the cynic monotony. Also, this Nick is like Stephen Seagal… he is invincible!

Death Is Not the End – Ian Rankin

Books: Death Is Not the End - Ian Rankin

When I saw this title, I was looking for a novella – a small novel I can read in a day or two. The title was intriguing, not in the sense of life after death, but *shrug* I wondered how a detective novel can talk about the afterlife. Or what Ian Rankin was doing writing a novella – he is best known for long-ass novels.

Anyway, I got it, and I read it in two days, sitting in the jam in the morning and evening – that’s where I read, btw. In this neat little novella, he does in 73 pages what many of his peers take three times as long to do–set an interesting scene, solve a crime, develop a character, and allow him to grow and change without sacrificing either pace or plot.

Rebus, agrees to track down the missing son of his high school sweetheart and her husband, a friend of his youth. He takes you into the gritty back streets and criminal byways of his hometown (more like me solving crimes in Maua), following the lost guy from the nightclub where he was last seen through gambling casinos, football matches, and face-to-face encounters with the mobsters who may have been involved in his disappearance. Along the way, Rebus confronts his own mortality, the choices he’s made, and the obligations he owes his past.

And, if you take part in those betting “fixed matches”, in this kabook you will know how that happens.

Start Something That Matters – Blake Mycoskie

Books: Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie

Back in the days, when I was working at Bata, we learned of a company in the US that does something remarkable – for every pair of shoes they sell, they donate a pair to a child in the developing world (sisi hao). We actually learned about it when we saw a picture of the First Lady helping a young jigger victim into a pair of shoes that looked like Ngoma and we thought, wow, she bought all those Ngomas from us. Before we tweeted the shit out of that, we noticed they were not Ngoma – they were TOMS. So, I started looking for stories about this amazing idea.

So, when I saw Kendi Gikunda with this book by the TOMS founder, Blake Mycoskie, there was no way I was letting her get away with it. I just took it, without caring where she was taking it, or if she was still reading it.

And it was the right move.

In Start Something that Matters, Blake Mycoskie tells the story of TOMS, one of the fastest-growing shoe companies in the world, and combines it with lessons learned from other innovative organizations. Blake presents six simple keys for creating or transforming your own life and business, from discovering your core story to being resourceful to incorporating going into every aspect of your life. No matter what kind of change you’re considering; Start Something that Matters gives you the stories, ideas, and practical tips that can help you get started.

It will leave you asking: What matters most to you? Should you focus on earning a living, pursuing your passions, or devoting yourself to the causes that inspire you? The surprising truth is that you don’t have to choose–and that you’ll find more success if you don’t. That’s the breakthrough message of TOMS’ One for One movement. You don’t have to be rich give back and you don’t have to retire to spend every day doing what you love. You can find profit, passion, and meaning all at once right now.

Even foor this book, he donates a book to a needy child, for every copy sold!

In this one book, I have learned enough to make me take some decisions that will impact my life, and hopefully the lives of people. It challenged me to look around me, and start something that matters!

You should look for the book. I would have lent it to you, but it is not mine. I doubt Kendi will give it to you either because it is not hers. And I still have it… I want the owner to forget about it.

====

March was a successful month, book-wise. I am not telling you about the fourth book. Reasons are best known to me. 🙂

See you next month. And, are you reading with me? What are you reading?

Books I read in February

 

Frankline Books February 2017

In January, I started my new journey of reading multiple books per month (btw, the picture above is of my growing third library). I did 2 books in January and promised myself to read four in February. Well, I managed to read 3 and a half (the half is part of one of those books that require a lot of patience to read) and I will tell you about it in the next edition.

So, here are the 3 great books I read in February.

Judge and Jury – James Patterson

judge and jury by james patterson

I love James Patterson! Okay, I am straight, I love his books. I have almost all his books and while they are not the only books I read, I throw one in once in while. They are easy reads and he knows how to weave stories and Judge & Jury is no exception.

In this novel, FBI agent Nick Pellisante has been pursuing Mafia don Dominic Cavello known as the Electrician, for a long time, and Cavello is finally on trial for the terrible, heinous crimes he is responsible for. Cavello is as ruthless as Pablo (Watched that series the other day) if not worse.  is linked to hundreds of gruesome, unspeakable crimes.Everybody knows Cavello’s power reaches far beyond the courtroom, but the FBI’s evidence against the ruthless killer is iron-clad. Conviction is a sure thing. Everyone is afraid of him. The judge, the witnesses, and the jury. Among the scared jury is Andie DeGrasse, an aspiring actress, and single mom, who had done her best to not get picked for the jury, but was chosen nevertheless.

As the jury is about to reach a verdict, the Electrician makes one devastating move that no one could have predicted. He bombs the jury! Everyone dies, including Andie’s 11-year-old son and the entire nation is reeling. Andie’s world is shattered. For her, the hunt for the Electrician becomes personal, and she and Pellisante come together in an unbreakable bond: they will exact justice-at any cost.

Patterson expertly combines the human interest of Andie and Nick’s relationship with the suspense of pursuing Cavello. It is a gripping story that you won’t want to put down. A legal thriller that pits two people against the most vicious and powerful mobster ever.

And vicious these two people become, tackling one of the most vicious mercenaries in the world, Kristancic, tracking and delivering justice to Cavello, and finally tackling their own hearts – there are a few steamy scenes. 😉

If you want this, and you will want it, I have a soft copy that I can lend you. Talk to me.

The Paris Option – Robert Ludlum (February Fav)

Rober Ludlum The Paris Option

I love computers. I really do – they are my life. This Ludlum blockbuster I read in February is about a special computer. A computer that can do anything to anyone. It can shut down America and it actually does. Power, trains, military, the internet, phone network everything. It is a molecular computer which uses special technology derived from living things – you know, no computer has matched God’s creation yet. Nothing can do what you can do – now, the molecular computer has that power.

It all starts at the Pasteur Institute, Paris. A bomb explodes, fire rages, and a renowned computer scientist is dead. Dr. Émile Chambord had been working on a molecular DNA computer that could virtually control all computerized operations around the globe. Now, his groundbreaking research is missing. Overnight, military satellites and communications are shut down by unknown sources. And Covert-One agent Dr. Jon Smith has to race across two continents to expose the next generation of terrorists—a vast network of technological spies who now have the power to reprogram the world. Every government agency, every armed force and every nuclear weaponin in their clutches.

Jon goes to Paris, ostensibly to visit the comatose Marty, but he’s actually there to find if any link exists between the explosion and the random computer hacking. Picking up bits and pieces of arbitrary information, Jon begins to piece together details of what is perhaps the most massive, elaborate and deadly conspiracy ever. Meanwhile, with communications sabotaged worldwide and people following the people following him, Jon determinedly sets out to find the people behind all this. Bullets fly, missiles launch, Dr. Chambord’s daughter is kidnapped, and Jon finds himself surrounded by danger. His search for the missing computer takes him on an intensely suspenseful journey all over Europe and beyond, even as nuclear holocaust threatens. Jon’s old pals, CIA agent Randi Russell and an old British spy Peter Howell, unexpectedly team up with him, and together they begin a most dangerous mission.

Like in all good stories, the ending is not what you expect. You know, when the main culprit is not who you thought it would be? Yes, those ones. It made my February.

You should read it. I can sell it to you, or you we can exchange if you have a better book. Just talk to me.

Micro – Michael Crichton

Micro Michael Crichton Book

What if you could be shrunk to the size of a black ant, thigiriri? That’s when you would know ants the size of safari ants are monsters. And grasshoppers are bigger than choppers. That’s exactly what happened to unsuspecting students in this science fiction – which I somehow enjoyed thoroughly despite my finding-science-boring. Ask my Chemistry teacher.

It begins with a private investigator named Marcos Rodriguez pulling up to a metal building located on the island of Oahu. The building is the main headquarters of Nanigen Micro-Technologies, a research company that specializes in discovering new types of medicine. Disguised as a security guard, Rodriguez enters the unattended building and begins searching the grounds for an unknown object. As he makes his way through the halls of the building, however, he begins to notice mysterious, ultra-fine cuts appearing on his body. Spooked, Rodriguez flees the building.

Shortly, Rodriguez makes his way to the office of his employer, Willy Fong. When he arrives, he notices another man, of Chinese descent, waiting in the office. Fong begins to question Rodriguez about his cuts, but before Rodriguez can explain, the Chinese man’s throat is slit by an unseen force. Fong and Rodriguez barely have time to react before they are also killed. Their deaths are reported as a triple suicide. And that’s the start of horror.

It follows 7 Harvard students who get recruited as interns for Nanigen. They are visited by the CEO of Nanigen, Vincent “Vin” Drake, along with his CFO, Alyson Bender, and Eric, who is a vice president at Nanigen. Although they are at first reluctant, they all decide to take Drake’s offer and fly out to Oahu. And that’s the worst decision they make. Eric is killed by the same small robots, and when Alison starts getting jittery over Drake’s murderous intent, she also gets killed. This is after the students have been shrunk to the size of ants and dumped into a forest where the chances of survival are almost zero – the micro world is ruthless. You can get killed by anything if you are the size of a thigiriri, no?

Actually, all of them die, including the main character, except two students, who fall in love.

Breaks my heart that the writer, Michael Crichton died before this book was published. When he died in 2008, an untitled, unfinished manuscript was found on his computer, which would become Micro. 🙁

I am not giving you this one. Buy yours.

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And those, right there, are the books that helped me through the month of love, February. And speaking of love, reading is the purest form of love. You should try cuddling a book to sleep. As always, we can exchange books, if you have a few good books that you have read, tell me about it and we can share notes.

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.” ― Fran Lebowitz

Books I Read in January

frankmwenda-books

Yaay! I am achieving one of my New Year Resolutions – Reading. Last month started late and I promised myself to read two books, I finished the second book on January 31st. Makofi… Pa…Pa…Pa! (Funga! Fungua!). I may sound excited but it is the small wins that matter in life, right? This month I will read 4 books.

Here are the books I read:

The Teeth of the Tiger – Tom Clancy

Jan Books - The Teeth of the Tiger - Tom Clancy

Tom Clancy, for me, is up there with James Patterson and Jeffrey Archer as some of my favourite writers. The books you just can’t pass on the street (zile za soo) or online. He has never disappointed and he didn’t disappoint with this book. He just waxes a straightforward story. Those stories where you somehow know how it is going to end, but you have no way of knowing how.

The Teeth of The Tiger is an intelligence thriller which starts from the top. In Rome, a Mossad chief is assassinated and the murder piques the interest of the Campus, (now, The Campus is a secret intelligence agency that doesn’t follow any rules, but are guided by lots of intelligence. More like kwekwe but smarter). The Campus uses the most intelligent people since it runs a Financial cover, and all recruits, killers or not have to be smart, above smart.

Jack Ryan Jr., the son of former president Jack Ryan (tuseme Jimmy Kibaki was huko), soon discovers the Campus’ operations. Wanting to serve his country in the post-9/11 world, he is hired by the agency as an analyst. Elsewhere, Brian Caruso, a cousin of Jack, is a U.S. Marine returning from Afghanistan to be decorated for his achievements in battle. Dominic Caruso, his brother, is an FBI agent who, while investigating a kidnapping of a little girl, finds her in a tub raped and killed. Caruso kills the suspect, in very high precision. The Caruso brothers are soon recruited into a Campus strike team, chosen for their ability to kill enemies in cold blood.

However, Brian is unsure of the morality of carrying out preemptive assassinations, even against terrorists. This changes when radical Islamics cross the U.S.-Mexico border and attack several suburban malls. This part reminded me a lot of the Westgate attack where terrorists just shot people. (This book will also help you understand what goes on in the terrorists’ minds when they shoot people). Brian and Dominic happen to be at one of the malls when the attack occurs. Although they efficiently find and kill all four shooters, dozens of people are killed; similar massacres occur at most of the other targeted sites. When a child dies in his arms after the attack, Brian abandons his earlier moral qualms. The Campus decides the brothers are ready and implements a “reconnaissance-by-fire” strategy to flush out the terrorist leaders.

How they do that is something you should read for yourself, but it doesn’s involve guns – it’s science. 🙂

Deliver us from Evil – David Baldacci

Deliver us from Evil - David Baldacci Books

David Baldacci is another writer who weaves stories like it ain’t your business. I don’t know what that is, but I think it is quite cool. No? Deliver Us from Evil is not a gospel book. It doesn’t talk about God, apart from the areas where a girl, Reggie Campion—28 and gorgeous, kills someone and prays to God to understand why she did it. You see, Reggie is a member of a secret vigilante group that looks for heartless mass killers who killed lots of people in the Soviet and Nazi eras.

That’s how it starts, Reggie killing such an old timer who had thought he was above the law. The rest of the novel is focused on the pursuit of another killer, Fadir Kuchin.

Evan Waller, aka Fadir Kuchin, aka “the Butcher of Kiev,” aka “the Ukrainian psychopath,” is one of those deep-dyed villains a certain kind of fiction can’t do without. Serving with distinction as part of the Soviet Union’s KGB, he joyfully and indiscriminately killed thousands. Now, many years later, posing as a successful businessman, he’s vacationing in Provence, France where, unbeknownst to him, two separate clandestine operations are being mounted by people who do not regard him with favor. Reggie’s group, which she is heading, and another more official but secret group led by the studly, tall Shaw. Okay, Shaw seems to be one of the people I hate, or jealous about. He is too handsome.

While their respective teams reconnoitre and jockey for position, studly boy meets gorgeous girl. Monster-hunters are famous for having trust issues, but clearly, these are drawn to each other(what would you expect?). Shaw saves Reggie’s life. She returns the favour (hapa kule). The attraction deepens and heats up to the point where team members on both sides grow unsettled by the loss of focus. This actually almost costs them, because at some point Waller kidnaps them and plays a hunting game with them. More like Tom Cholmondeley hunting Kenyans in his expansive ranch, with dogs and guns. People die.

In the end, the stalkers strike, bullets fly, screams curdle the blood, love has its innings and a monster does what a monster’s got to do.

This kept me glued.

If you need any of these books, tell me the book yoiu will be giving me in return and I will be happy to do the exchange. Hakuna vitu za bure 🙂

And, if you have read a book that you would like to share with these good people, contact me and we will make that possible. Sharing is caring!

 

365 Ways of Becoming a Millionaire (Without being born one)

Some time ago, I used to attend one of those highly successful evangelical churches in Nairobi. One day, the Pastor gave an example of how he had had a visit from a young man who wanted his help publishing a book. He had already written the book, “How to Make Money”. Now, our pastor refused to fund the project. Why? This young man wanted the pastor to “give him money” to publish a book on “how to make money!” He simply told him to apply the principles he had written in his book to make the money he needed to publish the book.

And I agreed with him. There are several inspirational books in the stores, all showing people how to make money, how to be successful, how to be happy, how to achieve your dreams….and the what not. They are great books, by the way, and they may help you…but then you notice the writer is not enjoying what he wants you to enjoy himself!

Before reading a non-fiction book, I like looking at the background-the author- to see if the theme sits well with what he stands for. Real life experiences are the best ways to study. The author, Brian Koslow is the founder and president/CEO of Breakthrough Coaching, Inc., a company that provides business training to professionals who aspire to become top earners in their fields. He was a millionaire by the time he was thirty-one – I still have some way to go, so, I reckoned he could assist me.

When I came across this book- 365 Ways to become a Millionaire (Without Being Born One), the title resonated very well with me. I wasn’t born a Millionaire and I don’t expect to inherit millions, but I want to be one! And there are 365 ways to become one? Wow. I expected 365 ideas that could generate millions, and I was ready to try some. However,  It won’t show you how to trade in the Stock Exchange, start up the next Google, or be a great real estate investor. No! Far from it. Basically, the book’s premise is that with your very positive, opportunity-seeking, desirable self you’ll bump into enough to have that million rub off on you.

The keys to real success, says Koslow, can be found within. Factors such as mindset, attention to detail, and a strong sense of ethics, are among the most important elements. In 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire, Koslow uses a lighthearted style to divulge inspirational and practical advice — the very strategies, tactics, and unique insights that made him a millionaire. The result is a serious, yet accessible guide for anyone who wants success in whichever field, whatever position.

Through 365 practical and philosophical tips, Koslow shows people how to build a mindset for success and turn their wealth-building aspirations into reality. These are in the main aspects of Integrity, Credibility, Leadership, Relationship, Reputation, Negotiation, Money, Entrepreneurialism, Productivity, Time, Listening & Confrontation.

Every Page has something to learn and quote! Actually, I would recommend one buying the book and reading a nugget every morning, reflect on it, and at the end of the day, you will realize you have gone some steps ahead.

In particular, among several others, I took home these points:

  •  Circumstances are not a valid excuse for lack of performance. If you cannot confront and overcome your circumstances, your performance will suffer. 
  • Be anchored to some ideal, philosophy, or cause that keeps you too excited to sleep
  • Being highly committed to making more money will make you more money
  • If you would not volunteer to do the job you have, you are probably doing the wrong job
  • Always keep your word. If a change in circumstances means that keeping your word would be life threatening or otherwise devastating, renegotiate with the intent of maintaining your integrity
  • Your integrity is at stake when your actions don’t match your words, moreover, your reputation, credibility and relationships are at stake too.

These are some of the things you will read in this book. Insightful, huh? I finished it feeling like I had all it takes to be a billionaire! I grew a few feet!

Conclusion:

If you want to learn practical ways of living a successful life, the normal way, by all means buy, read and enjoy the book.
If you want more focused advice, on how to Get Rich Fast, try something else! 

Book I Read: DELIVERING HAPPINESS: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

I read books, always. As you read this, I most probably have an open book. But, up to now, I haven’t read a book that has resonated with my mind the way this book by Tony Hsieh (read Shay) – the easily admirable CEO of Zappos.

This book is divided into 3 sections. The first part follows Hsieh’s entrepreneurial adventures from when he was young, for example his attempt to start an earthworm breeding business at the age of 9, a mail order button business in middle school, and a grille at Harvard University. After college, Hsieh founded LinkExchange, which he sold to Microsoft for $265 million two years later. He founded Venture Frogs, an investment fund, of which Zappos was one of the investments. The second section, Profits and Passion, details Hsieh’s involvement with Zappos, beginning with joining the company full-time as CEO in 2000. The third section, Profits, Passion, and Purpose, covers Zappos sale to Amazon, as well as lessons Hsieh learned in public relations and public speaking.

At first, Tony just worked as an intern in software company, and he also worked at Oracle, but later he found that those jobs are boring. Then, he co-founded his first company, LinkExchange, an internet service about online advertising.. In that time, Google Adwords had not been so popular. The idea was, a website could sign up for LinkExchange service, put some banner in their website, and whenever a visitor clicked on that banner, the website would get some credit which would be used to promote it on other websites too. At that time, what Tony thought was just to build a large network of these link exchanges and then sell the company to bigger companies at a profit, remembering that theoretically, they didn’t spend too much on initializing this startup.

The company became bigger and bigger, and Tony received some offers to buy his company (including from Yahoo), but he still didn’t want to sell it. Later, he found that the company became boring too, all of his work became routine, which he wanted to avoid in his previous jobs in Oracle. So, he sold the company to Microsoft for $265 million.

After selling his company, Tony became an investor for other startups, especially technology startups. This is how Zappos came to be. It was initially Nick Swinmurn idea, in which he saw a huge market for footwear. He imagined that it would be a lot easier for customers to just choose shoes they wanted from the internet. He made shoeunite.com, which later changed to Zappos. Tony, thyrough his investment company saw potential in Zappos…backed it, eventallly becoming the CEO and there has never been looking back.

It explains how he created a corporate culture with a commitment to service that aims to improve the lives of its employees, customers, vendors, and others.

Check out Zappos’ Core Values…like no other.

Deliver WOW Through Service
Embrace and Drive Change
Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
Pursue Growth and Learning
Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication
Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
Do More With Less
Be Passionate and Determined
Be Humble

Tony Hsieh, former investor and now CEO of Zappos, explains how important it is to establish a core-value-based organization, and to hire new talent who are purely in sync with those values.Have you heard of any other company t pays new employees to quit and makes customer service the entire company, not just a department.

Hsieh understands the power of going beyond what’s expected, particularly in our ever increasing word of mouth world.  People talk about that which surprises and delights them, and meeting unrecognized needs is sure to do both.  It’s not a matter of doing the minimum, but of doing the maximum that leads to long term success.

Business success for this generation (both for the individual and the organization) will go to those who understand their strengths, build a culture around it, and use that culture as a framework to exploit every opportunity to delight their customer.

SO: If you are looking for inspiration about how to live before you die… this is a MUST READ.

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