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The Watermelon King

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  121 ratings  ·  33 reviews
After being laid off from his job at a prestigious consulting firm, Dean decides to embark on a journey across East Africa with his younger brother. Unknowingly, they travel into bandit territory where a medical emergency forces them to choose between their safety and their health.

Inspired by true events, The Watermelon King follows the journey of two brothers as they ba
Paperback, 196 pages
Published August 10th 2015 by STATE39 (first published July 20th 2015)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
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 ·  121 ratings  ·  33 reviews

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Aug 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Watermelon King is a quick read that will have you engaged until the very last page. I found myself invested in the brothers' journey and wanting to know how it would turn out. The stories about the grandfather are outrageously funny and entertaining. They made me wish that I had a chance to meet him! In the end, Royse was able to tie everything together in such a way that put a smile on my face. I'm so glad I read this book. You will be too! ...more
Daniel Royse
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
I like to think I'm not biased about this ;) ...more
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: misc-read
Reviewing this book, after winning a copy through goodreads. Really enjoyed this book. A very well written & compelling book. An easy read.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I am always intrigued by stories of other people's adventures abroad. I am in awe of their ability to survive in harsh climates with nothing more than the packs on their back. Stories about Africa seem to intrigue me the most. I know that it is a very beautiful continent, and I know that there is still a lot of ugliness there. At the beginning of this book, Daniel promises to just tell it like it is, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and he did.

The majority of the story in Africa tells of the bro
Mar 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Book Review originally published here:

In The Watermelon King, Dean and his younger brother embark on a journey across Africa. But when they enter Northern Kenya, they venture into badit territory, and a medical emergency forces them to choose between dafety and health. What I thought was most intriguing about the book was that it was inspired by true events. It shows the beauty of Africa, and the struggles of the continent, as well as the beauty of travel
Michael McLellan
Dec 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Normally I wouldn’t gravitate to a semi-autobiographical story about someone’s trip to Africa. Lately, however, I’ve been deliberately choosing books that I might normally pass over. I’ve found a lot of gems in my new, more open-minded approach to selecting titles. The Watermelon King is one of these.
The story follows two brothers as they travel a less beaten path through Ethiopia and Kenya. Royse describes his characters’ experiences with crisp writing and a frankness that at moments really mo
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Absolutely loved it!! My friend recommend it to me and it kept me engaged all the way. I loved how the story moved seamlessly between Africa and North Dakota...something that I wouldn't have thought was ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Loving this book so far!
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Great book, easy read....and learned a lot about East Africa. Loved it!
M.J. Mallon
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Really enjoyed this so much. 4.5 stars.
Review on my blog:

And author spotlight:

The Watermelon King is humorous, thirst quenching,  and full of little pips, (trials and tribulations.) The hard shell that holds it together is undoubtedly the subsidiary story about the brothers' grandfather that sits in between the backpacking tale - what a salesman, and when he got ill, what a fighter!

I'd highly recommend The Watermelo
B.M.B. Johnson
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Watermelon King, which features two juxtaposed story lines, reminded me of the structure of Fried Green Tomatoes. The main story is an adventure of two brothers as they make their way through the small towns and sometimes frightening roads of Africa. The second read by the main character his grandfather's stories of becoming "The Watermelon King" and running a large scale fruit stand.

Both parts were equally enjoyable, and the read fairly quick.

While interesting, the African story failed to m
Danielle Urban
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Watermelon King by Daniel Royse is a must read for readers everywhere. Traveling to another continent, finding an adventure of a lifetime, and a little bit of an education read is one that will inspire many readers. This novel will take readers, where many can't go themselves. It leaves readers with suspense, intrigue, and a passion, to travel. Decisions...can leave major impacts. Dean definitely finds that out as his journey continues. Readers will see the scenes as though they were watchin ...more
Tony Parsons
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
2/13/2009, Dean (brother, business degree) took his younger brother Ethan & the 2 will go on a journey across East Africa.

They started out at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (capital city).
Dad Royse had a Watermelon Kingdom.
What cities does Dean & Ethan’s adventuress take them to?

I did not receive any type of compensation for reading & reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers & authors, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. Only an honest one.

A very awesome book cov
Jun 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a really interesting read, and probably not quite what you'd expect based on the title. I don't think it skews the book at all to say this, but you may have a slight assumption about the book considering it's called The Watermelon King and it's about a guy going to Africa. In reality, the title has nothing to do with the trip to Africa at all, but is part of a side story throughout. While we follow Daniel Royse on his African "adventure", he also periodically breaks away from ...more
Angela Withrow TheArdentReader
This novel is very well written! I loved the connection to the past through Dean and Ethan's father's stories written about their grandfather. The Watermelon King must have been quite the character! Someone I would have loved to have met.

Learning about the remote villages of Africa through the travels of these two was very interesting to me. Especially since I've never traveled outside of the United States. It may not have been perfect or even pleasant, but it was definitely an adventure to rem
Tammie Smith
Apr 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a great story. I really did enjoy reading this book. It is about two brothers going on a adventure in Africa. While he is reading the story of his Grandma the Watermelon King. It is fun and entertaining. I would recommend this to my friends.

Thank you to good reads and Daniel Royse for this book.
Joy  Cagil
There are two storylines in this memoir. The main story is the travel experiences of two brothers, Dean and Ethan, as they journeyed from Ethiopia to Kenya. The other storyline has to do with the life of the two brothers’ father, who was nicknamed as the Watermelon King as he seemed to be a very special man, hard-working and lovable. The directness and the flow of the language and the construction of each chapter is outstanding, but the different worlds of the two storylines took some getting us ...more
Jul 07, 2018 rated it did not like it
I had high hopes for this book as a perfect summer vacation read- adventure in Africa meets small-town life in North Dakota, plus a nod to my favorite food, watermelon. I was disappointed.

Transitions between the brothers' journey in Africa and the grandfather's stories of North Dakota were choppy, and there was no meaningful correlation between the two.

The "adventures" in Africa: Find the local beer, eat bland food, find a cheap hotel, wait for the arrival of the next truck, repeat (many times o
Tammy Davis
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reads
I gave the book four stars. It was not really my type of book. It started out kind of boring and all over the place. Once I got settled in the story it became much more interesting.

It is about two brothers who go on this journey to different parts of Africa and in the end get to a wonderful beach in Kenya. The two seem to encounter many obstacles along the way. They have to wait on rides to get to other towns, have to be on the lookout for road bandits, and even get a medical scare, but they st
Rebecca Hock
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I won a copy of this book from Goodreads. I was a bit reluctant to read it as my daughter is currently working in Africa and I did not want to read about the violence and horrible things that happen there. But I read the book and I quite enjoyed it. To me it almost seemed like two separate books. The part about the two brothers travelling through small villages in Africa was interesting and the part about their grandfather in the States was interesting and amusing. But they seemed like two separ ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Well, for such a short read it did give the reader a taste of life in Ethiopia and Kenya however, I’d have given it a higher rating if there had been more detail. I JUST finished it so, it’s fresh in my memory, and yet what sticks out the most is the grandfather’s surgery and the travelers getting beer. One due to details, and the latter due to repetition. Neither of these moments is Africa specific.
Janet Cardillo
Dec 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Felt like I was there

I had just returned from a trip alone to Montevideo, Uruguay. I don't intend to make long flights again at my age, but I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling way of this book. I don't think I would have enjoyed some of their hotels, the food, or the bucket baths, but I liked reading about the authors experiences. It was almost like being there.
shannon  Stubbs
Apr 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting combo

This is an interesting combo of two young brothers, traveling through Africa, and their grandfather's stories. It was kind of an amazing adventure through Africa. Kind of scary how much you have to put trust in strangers to get a long. The grandfathers stories kind of broke things up with some comedy. I was surprised how much I enjoyed this story.
Part travel memoir and part stories of his grandfather. Interesting, but needs a good editing. Quite a few typos.
Mar 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Watermelon King

Entertaining and well written ... but it ended suddenly. More plot development would have been good. Did the author just get tired?
May 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A light fun read, I loved the way the author introduces his grandfather's stories within his own travelogue.

Tightly written, you wouldn't find a single loose word in the book. It covers all aspects of the trip and makes you almost want to take the unconventional route he and his travel partner embark on. But once you finish the book and are back to the reality of basic comforts you tend to decide otherwise.

All in all a great read, filled with humour and travel tales.

Ellen Broadhurst
Feb 20, 2017 rated it liked it
Very quick read, mildly entertaining. The author obviously is well traveled, and the parts of the story that deal with the difficulties I'm traveling in non-first world countries ring entirely true. The story itself, though, doesn't hang together terribly well. The notion of flipping back and forth between present day and 'diary' type stories about the author's father had promise, but there isn't sufficient synergy between past and present to create a meaningful story arc. The two main character ...more
Eileen Rehn
Dec 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it was based on the authors true story of his travels to Africa as well as his memoirs of his grandfather. It was compelling to read about the African culture and its people. It was very intriguing to read about the one African's perspective on the UN and volunteerism. The grandfather's memoirs were entertaining. He was such a shrewd businessman. Throughout the book I couldn't understand the connection between the 2 stories until the very end and it was somewhat distrac ...more
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Brothers trek through Africa

Entertaining story of two brothers travel from Ethiopia to the beaches near Nairobi. Starts rather slowly, but picks up as their travel continues. The reading of stories written by their father about their grandfather and how he became known as the Watermelon King brings an interesting story within the story. It is well written and provides insight into the interaction of two young adult brothers making their way through foreign countries.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this story because it was based on true events and told while two brothers were on an amazing backpacking adventure in Ethiopia. Also having traveled in Africa, it was easy to picture the scenes and feel the anxieties as they traveled, ate and met people along the way.

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Daniel Royse is the founder and editor in chief of the online travel publication, This Boundless World. He has written numerous articles on travel, business and politics. The Watermelon King is his first full-length novel.

Daniel is an obsessive writer and explorer who has backpacked to over 50 countries, spanning five continents. He is a North Dakota native who currently resides in Los Angeles, Ca

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