11/22/63

By Stephen King

Book Review

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A Little Background Info about the assassination

I’ll admit, I had heard about the JFK assassination but  never really knew the circumstances surrounding this historic event or the aftermath of JFK’s death. I had never heard of the name Lee Harvey Oswald until I read 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I think that a little research about the events that unfolded after the assassination will help you understand the book a bit better .Although to be honest, Stephen King wrote 11/22/63 in such a way that anyone can enjoy the book even without knowledge of the event. King had carried out extensive research and explains everything quite well especially in the afterword.

“Almost half a century has passed since John Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, but two questions
linger: Was Lee Oswald really the trigger-man, and if so, did he act alone? Nothing I’ve written in
11/22/63 will provide answers to those questions, because time-travel is just an interesting makebelieve.
But if you, like me, are curious about why those questions still remain, I think I can give you
a satisfactory two-word response: Karen Carlin.” Stephen King-11/22/63

Lee Oswald at a press briefing

 Lee Oswald at a press briefing after the assasination

If like me you are curious to know more about Oswald and the motive behind his actions, check out his wikipedia page; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lee_Harvey_Oswald
It is said that the world changed when JKF died. I ‘Google-ed’ these ‘changes’ and found and an article that listed the below as some of the ways that the world changed after the assassination:
i. TV surpassed newspapers; apparently the assassination received the longest TV coverage unlike any other news event/news that had taken place before it. The article further states that, no other event received such a long news coverage on TV until 9/11
ii. The death of JFK also marked the beginning of the conspiracy era with so many conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination
iii. It offset a permanent distrust of the federal government
iv. A full on military engagement in Vietnam
Read the whole article  here: http://mic.com/articles/74069/5-ways-jfk-s-assassination-changed-america-forever

Okay so with that background info , here is a review of the book(no spoilers).

Stephen King attempts to address the question,’ What would have happened if JFK had not been killed?

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I’ll admit,  wasn’t too keen on t reading the book especially because i assumed that the ending would be obvious. However, i had to read it because my book club was reviewing it and it had some really good online reviews.Well, I am definitely glad that i did.
The main character in 11/22/63 is Jake Epping. In 2011, Epping is a divorced, high school teacher leading a normal life until his friend Al, dying of cancer lets him in on a secret that he can travel back into time. If you are like me and not a fan of science fiction, worry not because King does not dwell so much on the actual process of the time travel. Epping finds out that not only can he travel back but Al has also been attempting to go back into the past and change the course of history by stopping the assassination of JFK.
After being convinced by Al to take on the mission, Jeff Epping goes back to the past and takes on the identity George Amberson. We see him make several attempts to change different aspects of the past before setting on the main mission which was to stop the assassination.

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The book has an easy flow and is easy to follow even if you have limited knowledge of American History. There were many nostalgic moments as he goes back to the 50s when life seems to have been easier and definitely cheaper. I was amused by the part where Epping is having a conversation with someone from the 1950’S explaining that in 2011, America will have a Black President. The shock and disbelief and the way King expressed it is quite funny. Stephen King also does great work with character development in 11/22/63. Jake Epping is very easy to relate with. His fears, expectations, courage and relationship with Sadie are all too real. Sadie Dunhill is another likeable character that I found quite easy to emphasize with, from her terrible marriage to falling in love with Amberson and then the tragedy that follows, Stephen King did very well is coming up with such a strong female character. Other characters that I liked include Miz Mimi and Deke Simmons.

One thing I didn’t like though was the fact that the event that  Epping set out to change took place in 1963, but he still went back years before the event. This dragged out the book and some chapters were hard to read because the story became too slow. Although it is perhaps understandable that King does this because Epping had to try and change the other events and complete other missions before taking on the major one. I also didn’t like the amount of attention that was given to spying on the Oswald’s. At some point, it became too much that I lost focus on the plot.
Stephen King still finds a way to keep readers turning the pages as you try to find out how it all ends. At one point, i was even tempted to skip to the end and find out whether Amberson was successful in stopping the assasination, however, I stuck with the story all the way to the end.

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I loved the ending of the book (no spoilers). I think at some point in life we all tend to wonder about would happen if we can go back into the past and change something especially our past mistakes. Read 11/22/63 and find out what the main character, Jake Epping/ George Amberson discovered about changing history.

Maanzoni Lodge

I visited Maanzoni Lodge for the second time this August and just like the first time, I was enchanted by the place. The beautiful lodge is set in such a serene environment making it perfect for weekend getaways or any kind of retreat. The first time that I visited the Lodge was in 2013, going back to the lodge two years later, i was amazed by how much the place had grown. I was informed that the lodge currently has over  270 rooms.

During the two day retreat, there were at least four other groups. It seems that Maanzoni Lodge has become a very popular destination especially for corporate events.

‘Maanzoni Lodge is set on a 10 000-acre ranch with beautiful vistas and wildlife, located in the tropical savannah grassland and in the heart of Lukenya. It is a 40 minute drive to the city centre of Nairobi and 25 minutes from the international airport.’

Here is Maanzoni Lodge in photos:

Beautiful Accomodations

I really wasn’t kidding when i said that the lodge is beautiful. This is a view of the accommodation area is  picturesque, tranquil and breathtaking

Below are some photos of the pool area:

Pool 1

Pool 2

Pool 3

Its a shame that i didn’t get to swim at this magnificent pool, id like to claim that its because i was there for work and not leisure but yeah, water phobia is real :-)

At night, the pool area becomes the bonfire area. I met groups eating, drinking and singing near the pool at night around bonfires. It gave it a camping feel, really nice.

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Lounge Area

This is the lounge area right at the reception. The staff met us there, welcomed us to lodge and offered us a cold glass of juice before taking us to the rooms. Royal treatment :-)

Below are some pics of my room. The rooms are quite spacious, clean with comfy beds. There is a TV in each room too. In 2013, i got a room with some kind of a patio with seats outside, really beautiful too.

Room 1

I wish i was allowed to take this bed home with me, it was way too comfy…

Room 2

Bathrooms

The bathrooms all have hot showers but you need to ask the staff to show you how to work the showers. I had to do with a cold shower on the first day before i learned the tricks.

Another thing i really love about Maanzoni is the food. Seriously, the chefs outdo themselves with every single meal and honestly, that was my favorite part of the retreat.I bet i gained a Kg or two during the retreat but it was worth it.

Below are pics of the two dinning areas at the lodge.

Dining Area

Inside Dinning Area

The rest are photos of the accommodation area, i have so  many nice shots of this place. Its so beautiful and easy to photograph. I had to restrain myself from uploading too many pics. They were all so lovely. Here are some of my favorite ones:

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Next time your organization has a conference or if you are looking for a getaway just outside Nairobi, you should check out Maanzoni Lodge.

Check out their official website for more details:http://www.maanzonilodge.co.ke/

The staff are the lodge are amazing and very helpful. For bookings, i have dealt with Kanini Musau, Sales and Marketing Manager. Her email address is kanini@maanzonilodge.co.ke talk to her if you need any information, she is really friendly and helpful.  I also met Asumpter Kanini, the Guest Relations Officer who gave me a brief tour of the lodge and told me about the expansion, a very lovely and cheerful lady. The whole team was great from the customer care desk, the chefs and their crew and Douglas who facilitated the team building events. They add to the enchantment of the place.

So why go to Maanzoni? Well, id say because its a great, beautiful lodge where you will get to enjoy the serene environment while also enjoying good service from the staff members.Its definitely worth a visit.

7th Heaven at Moof Africa

7th Heaven

7th Heaven
When I see their happy faces smilin’ back at me
7th Heaven
I know there’s no greater feelin’ than the love of family

Where can you go
When the world don’t treat you right
The answer is home
That’s the one place that you’ll find

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I found this at the entrance of the Moof Africa grounds, not really sure what it is though but it kinda looks artistic :-)

Family Time

I always thank God for the gift of family. Every second that I get to spend with them is a great blessing and I hope and pray that I will never take them for granted. They have always been there for me through the tears and laughter and I can’t imagine my life without them.

Going home and spending time with your family and your real friends keeps you grounded.
Jennifer Ellison

I remember in 2013,when I was involved in an accident ,the first person that I thought about was my mother and despite the fact that I was far from her and it was 4:00am, I called her and she answered on the second ring. By 6:00am, she was on Mombasa Road following the ambulance that was taking me to K.N.H. She spent the whole day with me as I went through one test after the other and took me home where she stayed for a week nursing me back to health. That is what family does, they bail you out of tough situations that you get yourself into and they stay with you long after everyone else has left.

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outside seating area at Moof Africa
I remember years back after moving out of my folk’s place after getting my  first job, I thought I was finally Miss Independent. However, my first salary got stolen during a robbery at my workplace and so I had to call home and ask for assistance in paying rent .This was a reminder to the young and naive Miss Independent that I was trying to be, that I will always need my family.

Continue reading

A toast to Moses

It was a dark and grey afternoon. The clouds were heavy and the rains threatened to fall at any time. It was quiet. No children playing. No laughter. Nothing. There was a stillness in the air that weighed down on everyone.

I walked past a freshly dug grave. The flowers were still there, standing alone, the only living things in the area. ” Truphena Maria, daughter, mother and friend”. The headstone had no other details. I liked knowing the dates of birth and death so that I could calculate the age at which the person died. I thought of the children as angels, the young adults as the people whose lives were cut short and the old people…well, it’s about time I guess. When someone dies at the age of 80 they have already lived their whole life; what else is there to see after 80?

Read the rest of the story here:      http://www.shortstoriesclub.com/2015/05/a-toast-to-moses.html

Marto wa Ungem

“Niaje mnutty.”

He greeted me as he took the seat next to me in the dark theater. As usual, I thought of doing the snob thing and pretending that I had no idea what language he was speaking.

“Poa.”

I muttered under my breathe making it clear that I did not want to engage in conversation with him. I clutched my handbag closer making sure it was zipped up and tried scooting away from him. Luckily the play started and so we didn’t have to talk anymore.

It was a hilarious play and after a while, I found myself laughing so much that I relaxed the grip on my handbag and forgot about the man seated next to me.

“It’s nice to see that you have a sense of humor.” This time he spoke in good, clear English that caught me by surprise.

“By the way I am Marto…Marto wa Ungem.”

“I’m Linda… um… from Kilimani.” I don’t why he felt the need to tell me that he was from Ungem or why I even bothered to tell him that I am from Kilimani.
Marto was relentless, I tried playing the part of the snob but he managed to get me chatting away. He was easygoing, unlike anyone that I had ever met. With time, I found myself wanting to impress him with my laid-back personality even if I had to fake it. On the other hand, a part of me wanted to distance myself and show him that we didn’t quite belong in the same social class. I wanted him to feel honored that I was talking to him but at the same time, did not want him to think I was stuck up. Marto wa Ungem evoked so many different emotions from me.

You see, I had lived at Kilimani for 2 years. Before that; I was a resident of the sprawling Eastlands area, a fact that I never disclose to people. I can speak sheng, probably not as good as he did but I can hold my own for sure. I had used in matatus almost all my life; do not let the Benz that I now drive fool you. Nonetheless, unlike most people who had grown up in the ‘right’, I had a lot to prove.

The elite society had expectations. I had to learn proper use of cutlery, dress properly, drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood oh and definitely get that gym and yoga membership. Nothing says bourgeois like keenness on fitness. You need to jog, go to the gym and at least do some yoga. I did everything to fit in. Nevertheless, this was not a very accepting society but I was determined and so I clawed my way into the society. I wanted to have everything that I never had growing up.

I guess that is why Marto wa Ungem intrigued me. He saw past the English accent that had taken me years to perfect. Perhaps he saw through the act.

After the play, I walked outside and stood waiting for him until I caught sight of him. Oh dear Lord, his dressing was appalling, tight jeans, a loose Bahamas looking shirt and Sahara boots. I stood there in my Jimmy Choo heels making sure that it was clear once again that I was not the kind of girl that he was used to. I have no idea why at that moment it was so important to me to impress Marto by showing him just how classy I was. Why did I feel the need to prove anything to a man I hardly even knew?

“Come, I’ll buy a cup of tea.” I hesitated for a while wondering why he thought he could afford to buy me anything. However, once again I was intrigued by Marto wa Ungem.I have to admit, his confidence had my heart doing back-flips that afternoon.

We walked outside and naturally I headed towards my car.

“Let us walk and then you can come pick your car afterwards.”

I looked at Marto wa Ungem incredulous. He must have noticed that my Jimmy Choos were 6 inches high. I had spent a fortune getting those babies. I looked at him already walking out of the parking space and decided to be real with myself. I did have a pair of Bata Ngoma in the trunk of car somewhere. I always get them out when in places where my Jimmy Choos can never reach.
It’s amazing how relaxed my feet felt when in the comfortable shoes. They were unsightly but the relaxation was priceless. I caught up with Marto and down the road; we walked like two old friends. He talked all the way, telling me random jokes that had me in stitches. He had all these stories from his life that made me feel like I had led quite a boring life. For instance, we came upon a small stream which reminded him of mud slides and swimming in quarries as a child. He was an animated narrator and just looking at his hands and face as he told the stories was enough to crack me up.

We stopped several times as he explained random facts to me. He had these theories that I am sure would have made my friends roll their eyes at the absurdity. For instance, he kept telling me about being one with nature every time our feet hit the ground and connect with the dirt and pebbles underneath. He also had a theory about experiencing life as opposed to going through life. At some point, we came upon some sunflowers and he gave me one. That was Marto I guess, so simple.
We came upon a mabati structure and I hesitated as I watched Marto confidently walk in. It was not well lit and the ceiling was darkened by soot making the place look darker. However, it had small wooden tables and benches that looked clean and neatly arranged.

“Chapati mbili and chai,” Marto ordered without even asking me what I needed.

We sat for a while before our order arrived. The tea was served in large enamel cups with the chapatti rolled up and held in place with a fork. Without hesitation, Marto dug in and went on with his stories and so I took my first bite of the chapatti. It was heavenly. I had stopped taking all wheat products since apparently wheat is full of calories that like settling around the belly region and in my society, you cannot be seen walking around with a ‘muffin’ top’. Soon, I asked for another chapatti, not worried about belly fat anymore.

“Manze si ulikua ubao!” Marto teased me.

I found myself talking to him about my childhood. He was delighted although shocked to find out that I grew up in Eastlando. We talked and laughed and in no time, my English accent was forgotten. I can’t remember even laughing so hard. He reminded me of so many things especially about the woman I once was. I have worked hard for the life that I now have so I can’t regret living in a nice house or driving my beloved Benz but I couldn’t help but wonder if at some point I had lost myself in pursuit for the wonderful life and in an effort to fit in.

We walked back to the theater after the sun had gone down and darkness had crept on us. As I got into my car and watched him walk to the matatu stage, it struck me that I would probably never see him again. The impossible had happened and two worlds had met albeit briefly but at the end of the day, we all had our lives to live and I especially had an appearance to maintain.

Golden Gates Hotel

Nyeri

Golden Gates 2

For the longest time, the only leisure/ entertainment spots well known in Nyeri were Outspan and Green Hills Hotel. However, i discovered that Nyeri does have a lot more to offer. If you are thinking of visiting the town, one of the places to check out is the Golden Gates Hotel. Although still fairly new having been in operation for less than a year,the hotel is already quite popular and it is easy to see why.

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One random weekend, My family and I decided to try out something outside Nanyuki and we decided to go to Nyeri and see what the town had to offer. We considered going to the famous Tafaria Castle but upon making inquiries, we found out that it was a bit far from the town. It was then that I called a friend from Campus who recommended Golden Gates Hotel or Giraffe Ark. The later sounded really good but unfortunately seemed a bit far and so we settled on Golden Gates.

One of the things that i  loved about this hotel is the good service that we received. We called the hotel to get directions and the lady who took our call was patient enough to stay on the phone and answer all our questions. In addition, right from the security guards to the waiters and waitresses, everyone was super friendly.

There is a lot to do at Golden Gates Hotel  and most parents will appreciate the kid’s playground with a bouncing castle.

IMG_20150405_144027 I had to take this pic at an angle so as not to capture any of the kids since i didn’t have authorization to photograph them.

gallery-4This is what the bouncing castle looks like(pic from the website)

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The Hotel has plenty of space both inside and outside. This is the restaurant area in the hotel.

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Golden Gates Hotel

I was again unable to get photos f the swimming because it would have been weird to photograph strangers in a pool :-) However, this is what the pool looks like.

Apart from the inside space, there are also two outside seating areas. One is in front of the hotel and the other one is at the poolside.

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I didn’t stay overnight but heard that the hotel also has accommodation.

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This is why i liked Golden Gates Hotel;

1. It is near Nyeri town, just about 10kms

2. The location is really good, scenic views of Nyeri, including mount Kenya

3.A great place to relax and also a children-friendly enviroment

4. Great service, tasty foods especially the nyama and a huge pool perfect for a swim on a sunny day

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You can get more details about Golden Gates Hotel here;http://goldengateshotels.com/

Info about Tafaria Castle and Country Lodge;http://www.tafaria.com/

Here is a sneak peak of the Castle;

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wow

wowzie

I would really love to visit the Girrafe Ark especially after taking a look at their website;http://www.giraffeark.com/

Below are some photos of Giraffe Ark Game Lodge, looks really amazing.

Girraffe ARK

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No More Tears by Atieno Mtoto Mzuri

A Review

Atieno Mtoto Mzuri
Whenever we hear of Kenyans living abroad we always imagine them leading a life of luxury. I live in an apartment which is owned by a Kenyan living in America and know a number of other such apartments all around Ruaka. You only get to meet a House Manager and only know the owner’s names from the rent bank deposit slip. Up Country, there are  those homes that people will point out to you as they tell you that baba Kamau’s son in the States is the one who built the house. There are places where young people have only one dream; to fly out. I once visited a Coastal town where I kept hearing this phrase, ‘Huyo alibarikiwa akapata mzungu hadi wakaenda ng’ambo.’

We imagine that foreign countries can offer us more than what Kenya can. In some cases, this has proven true and there are many Kenyans who have found amazing opportunities abroad. Contrary to popular belief about the kind of jobs that immigrants do, many Kenyans have built careers and are living quite comfortably. However, not everyone living abroad is living the dream. In No More Tears by Atieno Mzuri, gives you other side of the story that we don’t get to hear often. Atieno’s is a story of an immigrant struggling to survive and fighting to stay in America at all costs.
I found No More Tears in an online group where the author had shared it for free. Curiosity got the better of me and I quickly went through the 214 pages in just one evening. It was an easy captivating read, well paced and fast moving hence quite the page turner.The book is based on the life of Atieno,a Kenyan girl who leaves the country and heads to United States of America in search of a new and prosperous life. She has big dreams of what she wants to achieve in America and already has made plans on how to spend the fortune that she will make. One of her main plans is to take care and provide for her daughter and her parents and build them a house. Her family also has expectations and so they expect to start receiving dollars from her to help them improve their living situation. Unfortunately, Atieno quickly realizes that the American dream does not come that easily especially for illegal immigrants. Despite having a Masters Degree from Kenya, she realizes that her ‘papers’ will not help her much in America. Atieno learns that she needs to become a citizen and one of the ways to acquire this status and avoid getting deported is by getting married.
No More Tears by Atieno Mtoto Mzuri is mainly about her search for a husband in an effort to get citizenship. It will shock you and also break your heart when you learn the things that she went through during her search. It will also change your view of the life abroad. So often we assume that everyone who flies out ends up living it up in the land of milk and honey but turns out that not everyone gets to do this. You will be surprised when she starts talking about living in a house with no water and making trips to fetch water in America. It will also surprise you to learn how much people are willing to exploit the desperation of others in this case, an an illegal immigrant, deportation was constantly used to threaten her.

There are also light moments in Atieno’s story that will have you smiling. The book will have you on a roller coaster wondering whether Atieno will succeed, find love in the process or end up being deported after all.
Atieno shared the pdf version of her book online and that is how i got it. I hope to read more books from this new author.