The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

When words collide

First lines. Opening sentences. The story begins.

Is there anything more satisfying than a good opening line, with words that whet your appetite and tantalise the tastebuds of your story soul? A sentence that marks the beginning of the journey you’re about to embark on, evolving into a paragraph that entices you into a brand new world. A story created just for you.  Stories resonate, some make you angry, or sad, or sob. Sometimes, you just have to share your thoughts on a particular book and how it makes you feel.

Enter: The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes.

It was bought for our bookclub last year, we each get a turn to host. The host purchases their selection of books, and we take turns to read them. So, I waited patiently for the copy of  The Giver of Stars to make its way to me, and then at the end of Feb, it was my turn. But I also had a copy of Grown Ups by Marian Keyes to read. Choices, choices! What to read first when both were clamouring for my eyeballs?  So I did what I always do and I read the first few pages of each book.  I could feel a certain energy emanating off the page of  ‘Stars’ as if the author was speaking directly to me through her characters. Her voice was loud and clear, and she kept my attention on a book I think she needed to write.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. This book is such a relevant read in our day and age. And while the book was set in the late thirties, the entire premise shows us that some things haven’t changed in regards to a partriachal society. Granted there is a definite process presently taking place, where women are beginning to speak up and take back their power, but not everywhere. There are still many women who are beaten into submission because they go against the ‘rules’.  Still many women who are silenced because of societal norms. But this book shows us what happens when we DO stand up, speak up, to show our truth, and what can happen if we don’t. What I adored about this book is that ALL the characters were portrayed so damn well. The men, and women. Because not all men are alike. Neither are woman.There was a sentence in the book, which I failed to write down, but it inferred that “women realise they are weaker than men when they are hit. But only until they (the women) strike back.”  It really resonated with me. It made me remember that I am brave.

The female characters are a diverse and accurate portrayal of individuals who believe they are alone, but when one woman inspires a group, they are beyond powerful and great changes occur, which is SO relevant in our world today. The story shows the power of community, of women on a mission, of living one’s truth, no matter the cost. It was a simple reminder that we all have a choice. The decisions might not be easy but we always, always have a choice.

I’m not going to give you a piece by piece breakdown of the book, suffice to say, you should read it.  I went in blind. All I knew was it had something to do with a mobile library in America, and was based on truth. (In fact, my initial thoughts were ah, not so sure about this one… ha, right, turns out it’s a five star relevant read,  I should NEVER judge a book by its cover…) Which is all I’m going to give you. Go read it, I really don’t think you will be disappointed. Then google it. But read it first.

As for JoJo Moyes, I think this is her best book yet. Relevant. Authentic. Brave.  A beautiful exploration of being a women amidst societal expectations.

No Comments »

Books, Bookstagram and Bookswaps

I have been a bad blogger.

January was my last post. In two and a half months that would be a year since I last posted. Does that mean I haven’t been reading? Definitely not. I have read many books. Some were great, some blah, two handfuls were excellent but most of the books I have read this year, have been a three star read. Saying that, my mind has been terribly distracted, so maybe its not them, it’s me;-) I’ll document my excellent book list at the end of this post. You can let me know if you agree, or not.

I may not have been blogging, but I have been more active on Instagram, or more precisely, Bookstagram. Not heard of it? It’s the place to go for photographs of elegantly placed books, cats,  books and cats, cats and books, books and more books. It’s a fun place to be, you meet bookish peeps, exchange bookish information,  discover fandoms you’re not really interested in,  find local stationery suppliers, and sometimes, you even get to talk books to those who chat on insta. It happens…;-) But the best thing I discovered this year was the SA Bookswap.

What a fabulous start up by Tams from @Bibliobookwolf. Tams initiated conversation with me via Booksta inviting me to join the South African Book Swap. Which is exactly that.  Swapping books. With a stranger. Or someone you have only stalked on insta. Or, someone you actually know on insta. There is always a theme. Partners discuss the budget amongst themselves. There is always an unboxing date to ensure suitable levels of excitement, (of which there is much). Countdowns, Giveaways, Discounts from various accounts. It’s all types of fun. So much so, I am putting together a box for a fellow bookstagrammers daughter, from my daughter – an avid reader and the live unboxer for me on social media.  I am currently participating in my third one, unboxing day 13th December. If you want to find me there here is my handle @thebookclubblog101. 

I did however discover a Secret Santa Bookswap (*squeal*) via The Secret Book Cub on facebook (just this morning), which I promptly signed up for. Yes, I have a problem. I love sending books via mail, and I adore recieving books in the mail. You could say I am slightly addicted to book swaps… you wouldn’t be wrong.

So, bookswaps aside, scroll for my five star reads of 2019 and just below that, my daughter’s list of must reads.

 My five star faves of 2019 so far:

Educated – Tara Westover

On writing – Steven King

Death on the Limpopo – Sally Andrew

Us against You – Fredrik Backman

Plus one – Vanessa Raphaely

The Enumerations – Marie Fisher

Ready Player One – Ernest Cline

Heartless – Marissa Meyer

Lab Girl – Hope Jahren

My daughter’s five star reads:

Harry Potter  – All of them – JK Rowling

Heroes of Olympus, Magnus Chase and Percy Jackson – Rick Riordan

A Place called Perfect and  The Trouble with Perfect – Helena Duggan

Holes – Louis Sachar

The Magic Misfits – Neil Patrick Harris

What were your top faves this year?

 

 

 

 

1 Comment »

The Book Butterfly

What is it?

The newest in South African book services, the book butterfly allows for hands free reading. Oftentimes, a product will arrive on the market which in theory sounds great, but in practise, leaves rather much to be desired.  I was emailed a rather amusing letter from the creator of the Bookbutterfly, asking if I would like to try one out. I am all for trying new things, especially if it has anything to do with books, and considering that my 10 (almost 11) year old daughter Loves all gadget type products, I knew that even if it didn’t work for me, she would love it. So, I said yes, send me one, let us give it a go.

Well, what a hit. From the moment it arrived (in the school holidays so my daughter was here when the parcel arrived), until now, it has been extremely well used.  She loves it. At bedtime, she supports her book in the holder, rests it on her pillow at just the right angle to allow a side lying position, at lunchtime, she has her book in front of her and hands free for eating. She loved setting it up, and the fact that it comes with a little light to assist in night time reading was just the best.

I have managed to pry it away from her bedside, once her lights are out, quietly sneaking into her room to take it and use if for my own bed time reading. It is fabulous if you have weak wrists and holding heavy books is not an option. It has been cleverly designed to allow ease of turning pages, clear little wings which hold the book open but do not interfere with the printed word and, if you choose the book light option, you have an extendable lamp to read by in the dark.

I thought the cutest thing was that the Book Butterfly is designed to look like a butterfly, and I do believe you even have the option of choosing your own wing colours.

I think this is a great invention for anyone who loves to read. And children who love gadgets. It is a functioning product which I know we will get much use out of. For cook book enthusiasts who utilise recipe books, it will also be a great help in keeping the page open where you need it, and out of the way to avoid getting sauce splatters on your immaculate pages…;-)

A proudly South African product, you can contact Trevor sales@bookbutterfly.net or you can find your own here.

Happy Reading!

4 Comments »

There Goes English Teacher – a Review

I love reading memoirs, especially about interesting adventures and Karin Cronjes’ There Goes English Teacher did not disappoint.

When  Modjaji Books asked me which book I would like to review, I was torn because all the titles sounded interesting and unique (La Bastarda- Trifonia Melibea Obono,  A Person my colour – Martina Dahlmans) but I chose this one after hearing good things.

I have to be honest when I say I was expecting something as bright and cheery as it’s cover, but alas, while it had it’s funny moments, this was a candid look at the reality of life. This was a story about change, and how to let go. A mother’s journey. The descent into despair,  a writers quest,  and the question of sex after 50.

It’s about teaching English in Korea, and the children who are taught. But this book is so much more than that.  This is about packing up, leaving a life behind and making a new one.

Karin deals candidly with sadness, and madness. And how a midlife crisis can cause havoc to one’s centre of gravity. This was a journey about taking her power back. How to mother differently, her grown up son.  This was also a writer’s journey and how the writing played out( and how it did not) when she allowed herself to listen to the characters, (even when she really didn’t want to). As an author-in-progress myself I particularly enjoyed this element to the book as it showed that we are all at the mercy of our characters, and our processes. There is no forcing something which is not ready to be finished. It takes as long as it takes.  In my writing course with Joanne Fedler, she mentions that ‘What shows up in life shows up in the writing’  and this book was a perfect example of that.

The writing was interesting,  and while the author played with both first and third person accounts, which lead to a couple of confusing moments when I wondered who she was talking about, I soon picked it up and enjoyed the contrast.  And, how it reflected the life she was living back to us, the reader.

I loved the conflict of cultures, the language barriers, the heritage differences, yet even then, friendships were formed. It was these that made her journey bearable, which showed that it doesn’t matter where you come from, connection to others is just as important as connection to self. But, so is letting go of friendships which no longer serve you. And of change. How we may change, but others do not and what to do with that.

This midlife memoir was a rollercoaster ride yet such a refreshing book to read.  I highly recommend reading it. If you are still needing gifts for the season, this would make an excellent gift and you can purchase your copy here.

But, I would love to pass on the love by sharing my review copy with one lucky reader of this blog. What do you need to do?

: Tell me if you could teach English anywhere in the world where would you go?

: Once you have read it, leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon.

Leave your name, answer and email address in the comments and I will do a lucky draw this Friday 7th December and post it on Monday 10th December via the post office. Only open to SA unfortunately.

Happy Reading!

5 Comments »

Will there ever be enough time to read all the books?

Aka My Christmas Wish List.

Books are expensive these days. And I know there are many costs to publishing and marketing and all those wonderful things. One day I will have my own book written and published and marketed, and then I will ask all of you lovely readers to buy it. So, I am all for spending money on them but I  budget one a month at the moment ( at the full cost price of R300). If I manage to find books under that price (like the Bargain Books Trade Paperback sale at R80 each) then I can purchase more.

The books I am interested in reading at the moment – most of them fiction, one memoir, are now on my wish list so I don’t lose track of them as yet more and more books make themselves known to me. And remember my previous post, about all the non fiction books I need time to read? Well, I don’t know when all this reading is going to happen…. I am going to have to choose wisely. It is the same concept as what to spend my time on. What shall I spend my reading time on? Well, these are some of the books that have made it onto my list…

Lethal White – Robert Galbraith

The fourth in the series and I am itching, palms and fingers, to read this book. But because my dad has been buying me this series, this WILL be a Christmas gift. Which means I need to exercise patience until then. I thoroughly enjoy these books, I love JK Rowling and I shall be reading this on Christmas Day.

The Enumerations – Marie Fisher

I discovered Birdseye about a year or so ago which was her first novel, and I loved her writing. Poetic, beautiful, intriguing and thoroughly unputdownable. If her first novel is anything to go by, I cannot wait to read this.

Moon Sister – Lucinda Riley

I really enjoy her books, and had discovered her before the Seven Sisters was popular. Then this series hit, and similar to the Galbraith books, waiting in anticipation and knowledge (generally) of a book a year, well, how delightful?! I do prefer the smaller printed books so this will most likely only be read in the New Year sometime but Im completely ok with that….

Wundersmith – Jessica Townsend

I read Nevermoor last year when my daughter received a copy for Christmas. We are both now waiting eagerly for the second in this delightful magical tale of Morrigan Crow. I have attached the Amazon link for this if you fancy reading the first couple of pages… (it’s a pleasure)

But They Look So Happy – Xanti Bootcov

I belong to a group of writers online through my writing course with Joanne Fedler so I had inside info that this book was going to be released. It is a debut memoir about adoption and after hearing the blurb on the back cover (which initiated leaky seams) I am definitely putting this on my wishlist for when it is available in SA.

That’s 5. And there are whole lot more. But for now, these are my TOP 5. I will be waiting in anticipation to read them and exercising patience until then.

What is on your list? Anything I need to be aware of? Do tell in the comments and let us know….

Oh, and does anyone know of a Secret Santa this year?

No Comments »

A Reader’s Sabbatical

I am a Pilates teacher and Massage teacher by profession.

I aim to keep my knowledge of the body on point, on track and up to date by doing various courses, both online and in real life. In between that I work, I write, I mother, I drive my little person to her favoured extra murals, and then come bed time, I want to forget about the real stuff and dive into a fantasy land of someone else’s creation. Even if it is only for 5 minutes before my eyes slide shut.

But a couple of days ago, while massaging my clients particularly tight traps, contemplating how busy life is and do we ever really take the time to rest, and how we abuse our bodies until they say no more, and the connections between mind and body. How the body stores its emotions, how it has a story to share if only we are willing to listen to the words it speaks. If only we could understand what it is trying to say.

Which then brought to mind all the books on my bookshelf on the mind, body, spirit connection that are begging to be read, and re-read and how it would be so truly delicious to be able to take a sabbatical away from work in order to read. Research. Without trying to fit it into life, instead it is life. To find some of the answers that flit through my thoughts on a daily basis. And how great it would be to then pass on that information to souls also wanting the answers, because even though the answers we seek are so personal, they are truly universal too.

So, in the new year, I am going to take a reading sabbatical and read the books on my bookshelf. The universe has a funny way of providing us with exactly what we need at exactly the right time. So, Universe,  Please may I have a month of paid leave to read and research for work.  And then while we are at it, could I have a month off to write too?  I am asking. Out loud. On social media. How can the universe ignore that?
reading nook

photo courtesy of pinterest

I did take a sabbatical at the beginning of this year, which was truly wonderful and well timed. So, I think a yearly sabbatical would do wonders for my soul.

Have you ever taken a reading sabbatical?

No Comments »

Selling Lipservice.

lipservice

 

South African author, Tammy Baikie wrote the Dinaane Debut Fiction Award in  2016 with Selling Lipservice. Published by Jacana Media and released in May 2017, this book is one that begs to be read.

Likened to Lauren Beukes, which originally attracted me to reading this, but it was the premise of the story which sold me. Read the blurb –

“Since coming of haemorrh-age, Frith must wear a LipService patch to write or speak. The words the patch produces are not her own. Scripted by copywriters, they promote one sponsoring brand or another. With them, ‘You’ – a voice in her head that is the patch’s brand persona and her conformist alter ego – appears. 

Through the noise of You talking a variety of different LipService brands, Frith struggles to find her way back to speaking for herself. She believes her tastures – her ability to taste things she touches – are the key. But other elements of this consumerist society are equally interested in tastures for commercial gain.”

The blurb tantalised my read buds, and having dipped my eyeballs into this, I was led into an interesting and unique land, of words, of opinions and of ideas which in this current age felt rather too apt in its originality. The idea that we are born and raised to speak a brand and our original thoughts and language are squashed into submission is somewhat real.  This book made me think of 1984 by George Orwell, and to an extent this was a dystopian novel, realistically, I think this could become a future.

Tammy co-joins words to words to form newly originated words which blends seamlessly together to create a quirky and original language of her own. This book does require some brain power, as it is similar (sort of) to learning a new language, and you do have to concentrate a little. Her world drew me in, engaged me thoroughly and spat me out on the other side,  feeling windswept, amazed, and blown away by her talent.

I loved it, but I don’t think it will be every body’s literature landscape. If you are feeling intrigued, give it a go, and do let me know what you think?

I received this book from Jacana Media in exchange for an honest review.

Buy here

No Comments »

I wrote a poem

…and it may not be the best poem in the world, but it is still my poem.

There was inspiration, there was flowing words, there was ink and paper, and a song in the lines…

If it wasn’t for The Author Awakening Adventure, the 8-week writing course I signed up for last year through Joanne Fedler, I would probably still be ignoring my desire to write.

I have now committed to writing my very own novel. With an aim to have my first tragic draft written by the end of this year. I have organised leave from work to enable space for the words to thrive, and I am hoping that by the time I return most of my ideas will have turned into a semblance of a story. In fact, I am certain it will.

If you have any sort of desire to write, but you don’t want ‘just a writing course’, this is the one to join. It starts on the 19th February and continues for 8 weeks. The support you receive is incredible and I highly recommend it. Take a look here, if it resonates with you, jump in and be brave.

In the meantime here is my poem:

My memories were assailed by forgotten reminders of the past.
I saw glimpses of my 20year old self-
remembered who I used to be.
Where I came from.
And for a moment, went back to that place to see.

But the changes have been wrought,
the blessings of a life well lived,
the soul of a little person residing within
all would not be possible,
if it weren’t for me.

For I recognise the path,
the differences between
and though I may forget, or rather, not remember,
I have come a long way since then.
My past has not defined me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No Comments »

Raising a Reader.

Books. What are they but a pile of papers sewn or glued together? Filled with words of wisdom from the wise. Or nonsense rhymes which make us laugh. Characters and letters printed in pretty fonts. Stories that lead us into adventure, teach us how the world can be and find rare friendships within the pages. Books. A pile of papers sewn or glued together. To impact on our lives if we let them. And for most of us, something we purchase without much thought. We may not like to pay almost R300 for a book( if you live in South Africa), but we can. And we do.

IMG_0942

This year, as like last year we will be donating funds to Little Libraries and if you would like to get involved, please take a look at their Facebook page Little Libraries. Camille does such wonderful work in getting books and educational supplies out into parts of Africa where it is really needed. I donate through the year to Little Libraries and you can too, but what we urgently need right now are books for Grade 4, 5 and 6.

There has been a plea for help, a Bookdrive if you will, to Potchefstroom. Please read the message below:

Hi Everyone!

My name is Kelee and I’m teaching at a school that is a model core c school and it is lacking in books.

I’m looking for reading books for my children at my school. Grade 4, 5 and 6. If you know of anyone that has children’s books that they can’t sell because they are the too damaged and want to re-home please could you WhatsApp me on 0760112839.

I would appreciate any and all donations!!!

(I’m an ideal world I’d have one book per child = 165 books.)

PS: I live in Potchefstroom and will pay for postage.

 

As I have a Grade 4 child who is an avid reader and believe me, she goes through at least a book or two a week, so the call for books resonates with me. I will be going through her bookshelf this weekend to see what has been read and is ready to be re-homed and I would love for you to do the same. And then donate them to this worthy cause. And even though Kaylee is looking for those specific grades, Little Libraries needs for the younger reader. Board books, Learning Letters books because, in rural Africa, many of our children cannot read. So, collectively between you and me, lets help raise a reader. In more ways than one. And with the children of Africa who need it.

heart book

If you would like to get involved and donate books to either of these worthy causes, please support us. If you live in Durbanville or the vicinity thereof, you are welcome to drop off and I will organise the delivery to LL or Potch. I will also be able to collect in certain areas. You can contact me on purplerob2 at gmail.com if you have any books to donate.

Help us to raise 165 books for Potch.

Help us to raise a Reading Nation.

Help us to Raise a Reader.

children-reading-books

No Comments »

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…

 

No Comments »