The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

Committed.

Last year I turned 40.

Last year I signed up for a year-long writing course, 365 days. Of writing. When I had not written anything vaguely ‘creative’ in over 20 years. Yes, I had written blog posts, and posts on Pilates and updates on FB, but dig into imagination territory and write? Nope, nothing, nada. Until Last year.

I joined the 7 Day Writing Challenge through the author Joanne Fedler last May. I was drawn to her because I had read her memoir, When Hungry, Eat,(loved it) and the idea of getting taught by an author, a published author, made me feel special (also a little starstruck, and when she answered a comment of mine on FB, well, swoon…for me, authors are like movie stars…) Long story short, ended up committing 2018 to the Year of My Book, and it was suggested to me that I should document the journey for other aspiring authors. (I can’t wait to look back at these posts when I have a book published… It will be very surreal.)

My 365 days started the 1st January, today is day 15 and this is what I have learned so far.

  • You have to believe you can pull it off
  • Writing is as hard and as easy as sitting down to write. If you know your letters, you can write.
  • Having someone who believes you can do it, no matter the doubts in your head makes a BIG difference.
  • You WILL have doubts, but it is what you do with them that count. Do they terrify you so much that you don’t get the words down, or do you politely acknowledge them and then tell them they are not welcome… I do the latter.
  • You have to make the time to write. Even when you don’t feel like it.
  • Somedays the words flow and sometimes they definitely do not. When they don’t,  write down the noise in your head. Make space for new words.
  • Your writing can surprise you
  • You do have gems amidst the ramble
  • You have to write EVERY DAY, preferably with a word count so you are accountable to yourself.
  • Having a group of writing buddies is extremely supportive of the process. To have them to chat to, to compare notes of where you are at in the process, to talk to people who are in the SAME situation, is very beneficial and I am very grateful for my Podlings. ( You know who you are)
  • You have to TRUST THE PROCESS. Even when it feels like nothing is happening, trust that there is. Under the surface where you cannot see it.
  • You have to have faith in yourself and your ability(even when you don’t)
  • You have to commit, even on the dark days, the silent days, the days the words won’t budge.

I am positive that this process is going to get both easier and much harder as the year goes on. But I have set myself along this path and I shall follow through. Committed.believe

And you, are you planning a similar journey, or have you embarked on your own story, your own book? I would love to hear from you. What gems have you gleaned from the process?

 

Next update coming in February. Until then…

 

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Do you write?

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I didn’t. I used to, many many moons ago when I still believed in the power of my words. Because one random incident stopped me writing. What was it? I reread some of my journaling and thought, what on earth are you on about? I was a confused young adult, with no real direction and after reading this particular piece (for the life of me I couldn’t tell you what it is now), I cringed and stopped putting words down on paper.

Until my daughter was born, and I realised I needed to write, that I could not keep my words bottled up inside me anymore, and Imsonotablogger was born. I delved into the land of blogging and it served its purpose for many years until life got crazy and busy and I no longer found the time to write…

Skip to 9 years later, when I started looking for a writing course to do. I was turning the big 40, the call for writing a book too loud to ignore and halfway through being 40, I discovered the 7 Day Writing Challenge with the author Joanne Fedler. After seeing the advert on Facebook for a couple of days, I clicked the link.

(It took me a few days because I am always wary of advertising on FB, how they manage to target their market so efficiently freaks me out a little) But when I did and realised that it really was what it said it was, I signed up for the 7 Day Writing Challenge. It was free, and time wise quite doable in my rather crazy schedule. I knew I could fit writing into my life, without it causing too much extra mayhem.

The beauty of the 7 Day Challenge is that my words were woken up. The delicious Joanne Fedler, who teaches with compassion and a no-nonsense approach to being accountable for your thoughts and actions. She teaches the balance of craft and consciousness, so you are not “just writing” but feeling your way into your writing. Which for many of us, that may be the scariest thing. But Joanne manages the transition with care and compassion so you are gently dipping your toes into the waves of words, feelings, and memories of what is alive inside us.

Why am I telling you this?

For three reasons:

  • Firstly, this free 7 Day challenge affected me so much, I signed up for a year-long course to Write My First Draft. Yes, I have always wanted to write a book and Now I am. Becuase writing really is as simple as putting one word in front of the other and letting your fingers do the typing.
  • Secondly, I don’t share things I don’t believe in. I believe in this.
  • Thirdly, if you sign up for the free 7 Day Challenge, at the end of it you have the option to enter a competition to win a scholarship for the Author Awakening Adventure. Which is an 8-week course and really fires up the imagination(that is where the idea for my book originated).

So, even if you think you CAN’T write but want to, this is the perfect starter portion to see where it leads you. It runs from the 18th – 24th January 2018.  And if at the end of it, you really don’t want to explore the landscape of words within you, then don’t. This is the start of a brand new year, release your creativity, for 7 days, and see what gets born from it.

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2017 Book Reviews Top 10

Goodness, I have been neglecting this little corner of books. I may not have done much writing in here, but I have done much reading.

2017 was a fabulous reading year. There were not many duds, though if I was reading something I really wasn’t enjoying, I put it down and started something else. There are way too many good books in the world, to spend time on books I am not enjoying. I give them an honest try but if they don’t tickle my tootsies, then I abandon them…

No 10

boundless sublime

The Boundless Sublime – Lili Wilkinson

This was a great a novel about a cult and how easy it is to fall into the trap of words. A superb YA novel.

No 9

caraval

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

Thoroughly enjoyed the magical YA novel. It was a unique story and very well written

NO 8

more than this

More than this – Patrick Ness

Another YA, what makes you think I am a fan? But this was different and engaging and asked the questions, are we real? Do our thoughts define us?  I loved it.

No 7

the jewel

The Lone City Series started with The Jewel

I thoroughly enjoyed this series. Granted it was a little wishy-washy in places, but I thought the storyline was original and fun.  It was also super easy to read and kept me entertained through all three of the books. ( I went through a spate of reading books that my daughter can eventually read, this set has been saved for future reading)

No 6

beautiful

Beautiful broken things – Sara Barnard

Once again, this was not your straightforward YA novel, this one had some meaty bits and showed the power of friendship. Especially when we are young and feel things more intensely. A good read. And save for future reading.

No 5

fever

Deon Meyer – Fever

A South African author mainly known for his thrillers, brought this dystopian novel into the world of books, and thank goodness he did. It was great, and he hit the notes just right. Set in SA, with a wonderful twist in the end. If you are into Dystopian, then this should not be missed

No 4

conception

Ms Conception – Pamela Power

Another great SA author, new to me, but on my list of faves. This was hilarious and managed to tear me out of my reading slump that hit me this year. Her writing is funny, true and loved that I could relate to the book. Read it, its good.

No 3

bear

Beartown – Fredrik Backman

Wow, just wow. This one had me through the ringer. I cried big ploppy tears onto the screen of my kindle in this one. A story about family, life, and gender roles. This book Needs to be read.

N0 2

eleanor

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman

Another Wow. This book was an extremely well-written debut novel. I loved it, I loved the characters and I think Honeyman pulled it off with aplomb.

No 1

music

The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce

One of my all-time favourite authors, Joyce got the balance in this book just right. It was perfect, I loved it and you should read it. A book about life, and how we Don’t live and what happens when we don’t and how the small things are the big things and music plays an important part.

If you would like to see the rest of my book, you can find them on Goodreads. I struggled a little to decide which books to add to this list becuase out of the 50 books I read, at least 30 of them were great.

And now onto 2018. Where, while I am reading (Currently on The Boy with No Shoes, William Horwood’s memoir) I will also be writing the first draft of my book. I have joined a writing course with the author Joanne Fedler and I aim to have the #tragicfirstdraft completed by November. So keep an eye on this page….

Happy Reading!

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Two of my best reads for 2017(so far)

BeartownBeartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a page turner.

Unlike any of his previous novels in story but the brilliance of his writing is stark.

Beartown is a book that must be read. And by as many men as possible. Women too, but men need to read this book. This book will send you through the ringer, it will have you sobbing, gasping in disbelief, laughing, sharing joy, understanding regret, give you a sense of knowing, all set within the small town called Beartown. This is a story about belonging, about family and about the power of sport. It is about love and understanding, hate and desire, ice and heat. I loved it.

Please read it and then let me know what you thought.

Suffice to say, this is one of the best books I have read this year.

On par with Deon Meyer’s Fever. A dystopian novel set in South Africa.

 

FeverFever by Deon Meyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well. When I first realised that Deon Meyer’s new book was a dystopian novel my first thought was: but how can he change his genre of writing? Then my second thought was, how brilliant that he CAN change his genre. That he has the brilliance to write something other than what he has written before. And there is brilliance in this novel.

Set in South Africa after a worldwide viral outbreak where the survivors are few and far between, Nico and his father Willem are driving through the desolate landscape when they come to a stop in a town which is eventually christened Amanzi. Amanzi is their new hope, where together with other survivors of The Fever, they begin to rebuild their lives.

This is the story told from Nico’s perspective, and over a five year span. I was swept away into the world Meyer has created and felt both urged to read, and yet also to savour the journey. A believable and courageous story, which I highly recommend. Do not let the fact that this is a South African author, deter you from reading this book. You will regret it if you allow ‘prejudices of apartheid’ (which was always my one complaint in early SA writing, it was all the same, but I can honestly say, this is not) dictate to you over enjoying this novel.

 

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Books Books Books

I received an email yesterday from Net Galley (They do Books) and did you know that there are a couple books coming out soon which you really need to be aware of?? Pity my birthday will have passed by then but check out these great books:

 

kostovaElizabeth Kostova – The Shadow Land

And if you’re asking me who? Then you really need to check her out.  She wrote The Historian which is a fabulous book, and if you haven’t read it yet, you really really need to. The plot blends the history and folklore of Vlad Țepeș and his fictional equivalent Count Dracula. I couldn’t read it at night, it was that good. Then her second one, The Swan Thieves which was not quite as fabulous as her first, but also very good and now, here we are with her third one, due out in April this year!

What is it about? Thanks to Amazon:

A young American woman, Alexandra Boyd, has traveled to Sofia, Bulgaria, hoping that life abroad will salve the wounds left by the loss of her beloved brother. Soon after arriving in this elegant East European city, however, she helps an elderly couple into a taxi—and realizes too late that she has accidentally kept one of their bags. Inside she finds an ornately carved wooden box engraved with a name: Stoyan Lazarov. Raising the hinged lid, she discovers that she is holding an urn filled with human ashes.

As Alexandra sets out to locate the family and return this precious item, she will first have to uncover the secrets of a talented musician who was shattered by political oppression—and she will find out all too quickly that this knowledge is fraught with its own danger.

Elizabeth Kostova’s new novel is a tale of immense scope that delves into the horrors of a century and traverses the culture and landscape of this mysterious country. Suspenseful and beautifully written, it explores the power of stories, the pull of the past, and the hope and meaning that can sometimes be found in the aftermath of loss.

 

Next on my list is:

bear

Beartown by Frerick Backman

I adore this mans writing! He wrote A man Called Ove, My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry, Britt Marie was here, And every morning the way home gets longer and longer and now Beartown.

What is it about? Thanks to Amazon:

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

And those are just two on my list of Want to Reads.

What is on yours?

 

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Gilmore Girls – The Series and The Return

I discovered this TV show in April.

I had returned home from a trip to Cornwall, England with my daughter and we were heading into cooler weather our side of the world (Cape Town, South Africa) which translates into hibernation weather and stay at home days – and nights. Which in turn means ‘needing telly’ to watch as entertainment. We don’t own a telly, or should I rather say, we now own a telly after about 10 years of not owning one but we don’t actually have telly on it. We subscribe to Netflix, when it arrived in SA, I am sure we were one of the first people to get it and now have a world of tv series at a touch of a button.

So, back to April, I obviously had heard of Gilmore Girls, in countless blogs I have read over the last few years there have been references to the series, to the books Rory read, and so on, but I just never got the idea to watch it, you know? I found it on Netflix, thought I would give an episode a go and well, that was me, hooked. It kept me entertained for the whole of Winter, I had nights where I binge watched episodes, I literally gorged on Gilmore Girls. And then the weather heated up, and Greys Anatomy and Elementary returned to the screen and I only just two weeks ago, finished the final episode of season 7. Why didn’t she marry Logan??? She could of had her wild and free even with being married!

And then this weekend… I binge watched the entire Year in the Life. Oh, how I sobbed! I adored all four episodes. But the last one? Why?? *Spoiler Alert* if you have not yet watched it and plan to, stop reading now…….

 

 

My first thought when hearing Rory say those fateful words, was Don’t do the same thing your mother did! Why? There was nothing wrong with what Lorelai did, or how she did it, but why does she want to carry on the cycle? And Logan would so marry her and ditch Odette, who clearly is not really that important to him otherwise he wouldn’t be sleeping with Rory…!I know life is not all peachy perfect and this is just a TV show, but goodness, its just as bad/good as a brilliant book, one gets attached to ones characters…and one feels all sorts of warm and fuzzies, or sobs, seriously I sobbed at one point. And honestly, why not tell Logan? And why is it bugging me so? Any one else have this issue?

 

Anyway, back to my ‘review’, I loved this show. I love that the new episodes came out now and I had just finished all seasons to be able to watch it. It made me feel all warm inside. And how lovely to see them all grown up and changed but not changed. That is a sign of a good TV show and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I don’t know of anyone who has watched it though, so please if you have, share your thoughts with me?!!!? Lets chat, lets bemoan the ending, and hope that there may be a spin off, or, just MORE.

I even went to search for books about them….I found this list on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=gilmore+girls

Has anybody read any of them, and if so are they any good? Do let me know if any of them are good to read…!

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Wish Lists

So 2016 is coming to an end….Did you have a good reading year?

This year I decided not to challenge myself to a certain number of books read as last year, I challenged myself to 100, and even though I made it, I found that I was just reading to make up my 100 instead of enjoying the process of reading, pondering and then finding a new book to read. Sometimes I like to stay in the world of the characters that I have just left without launching straight into the covers of another book. One book this year, which stayed with me was Station 11,  and even now I find myself pondering the characters and the story line.

But according to Goodreads this year I have read 49 books, 16000 pages, half of last year, and  I don’t feel too much loss at having only managed 50 books ( I will have read at least 2 or 3 more by the end of December….)

But this post is meant to be about books I want not what I have read, I will do another post later on with some of my best reads for 2016. There were some goodies…

Here are my top 3 books on my wish list, have you read them?

beasts

Fantastic Beasts and where to find them – the screenplay – JK Rowling. (Need to take myself to watch the movie sooooon!)

universe

Holding up the universe – Jennifer Niven. ( I LOVED All the Bright Places, seriously if you haven’t read it, please do. Drop everything else and just read it)

backman

And every morning the way home gets longer and longer – Fredrik Backman. Adore this authors novels!

What is on your list this year? Let us know in the comments!

 

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The Underachieving Ovary by JT Lawrence

ovary

 

 

I received a review copy of this book from cupcake mummy(Thanks!) in exchange for an honest review.

I really enjoyed this book, it was raw, honest and real and I enjoyed Lawrence’s writing. She really manages to pull you in to her story without much hardship on her part. The story of her infertility and desire for a child is  heartbreaking until finally after much hardship, she is blessed with pregnancy and new life.

This is not a usual subject for me, as I have never had infertility issues, I have no idea how it must feel to desire a child so much that nothing and no one can stand in your way to conceive. I know of people who have, I have ready some books about it, but it can never make me understand to what extent these feelings can crowd a person out and fill one with despair. I thank Lawrence and Albertyn(So Close) for writing their stories, for sharing the heartache, heartsore and yet heartstrong feelings, and words with us so we can have an inkling as to what they went through in order to conceive.

They are strong women.

Read this, it is pretty compelling. Written in journal format, dark humour and TMI in equal parts,  it requires you to read because you really want to know if they succeed in getting pregnant or not. From the back of the book:

Let me put it this way: If Helen Fielding and Marian Keyes were to go through IVF, and use Caitlin Moran as a surrogate, this book would be their baby.

JT Lawrence is South African and has a good few books out, I do believe I will have track down some more and see if they are as good as this one. Check out her website here.

 

 

 

 

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A Guide to the Birds of East Africa- a review

 

 

guide

What an absolutely delightful book! I read ‘ A Guide to the birds of East Africa by Nicholas Drayson, in a couple of days, and was the perfect companion during my short flight from Cape Town to East London. Again, this book was purchased from the lovely FB group which brings new meaning to book buying addict… and was the second to be read in my ‘pile’.

When I started it I thought surely I have read it, it sounds so familiar! Clearly, this was another book I had started and never got further than the first chapter. Fascinating how some books just don’t grab you the first time! The story was about two gentlemen who have a friendly contest on who can see the most birds, and new birds each day within 7 days, in order to ask a certain lady out on a date. The story was amusing, the characters were quite vivid and again, they have planted themselves in my mind for the moment. I loved that the story was set in Kenya, with references to England too. Though the most amazing thing was the amount of birds these gentlemen saw each day.

To sound a little ignorant( I have never been a particularly avid ornithologist ) I really didn’t realise there were so many birds in the world, never mind one country in Africa.  It made me feel a little excited at the prospect of bird watching in my garden, we have many many birds that pop in and sing us good morning. Not that I know what any of them are, but I think I could very possibly give it a go in the holidays and see how many different species I can spot in a day…..

The ending was lovely and fitting for the novel, no serious great shakes, just a gentle novel, about kindness and honour and grief and bravery and learning to get over ones self.

 

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Station Eleven – a review of sorts

 

station-eleven

I started this book about 6 months ago and didn’t even finish the first chapter.

I then subsequently bought myself a hard copy, from a book group on FB that sells second hand books at great prices, and you collect them at the post office, luckily, you can keep ‘piles’ with the various buyers and pay only one postage price. Its great! But can be rather detrimental on your bank balance, because even those R30’s add up….But back to the book.

Out of my ‘pile’ of books I decided to start with this one as I had heard fabulous things about the book- without having gone searching for reviews, the seller loved it and I generally give books a second chance if I didn’t manage it on the first. My verdict? I absolutely loved it. It had me rapt for a couple of days and I found myself reading when I really should not have been reading, but it was a case of ‘just one more minute, then I will get ready for work’ -Luckily I work from home so I do sometimes have a few extra minutes to spare….

The story is apocalyptic in nature, and so easily written about, that out of all the Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic novels I have read, this one was the most easily believable and almost relatable. The world succumbed to the Georgian Flu, whereby once the virus got you, you were man down and out within a day or two. I loved how the author describe the ending of the world, in fact one part which really plays with my mind is the aeroplane scene. This happens in the beginning so no spoilers to worry about. A group of airplanes and their passengers have been diverted from their original travel path and deposited at this airport whereby they end up living and forming a museum out of the left overs of the life that no longer exists and becomes a destination for travellers in the left over world. While they are in the arrivals department on one of the earlier days of the outbreak, a plan lands, but no one disembarks. And the plane stays  there for the rest of time. I found that one scene so powerful in its simplicity.

And, I found it quite haunting as I was on a aeroplane twice this weekend, and both times this scene came back to haunt me.

When I finished the book, I felt bereft without the characters and it took me a few days to process the story. As I said, I loved it, but the ending was not what I was hoping/expecting. That is the problem with some books, they are excellent and then almost let themselves down by their endings. Though I guess that is really the readers problem and not the writer. Why didn’t I like it? I have been pondering how to get it into words, so here is my attempt:

The ending was lovely in that it brought all the pieces of the puzzle together and how each character related within the weave of the novel. But I found it almost too tame. Which in hindsight of having been disappointed, life is quite tame in its labyrinth of who’s connected where. Its the rule of 3, that at least one person will know one person will know one person within your circle of people. I guess, because the story unfolded so gently I almost expected the explosion of the truth of the novel to be hurtled at me, and not gently put there.  I wonder if anyone felt the same way? I would love to know.

If you haven’t read it yet, do give it a go, and then come back here and let me know what you thought. I would have to say that is one of those books that lingers with you long after you have finished reading it.

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