The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

Sex, Lies DECLASSIFIED

Remember Fifty Shades of Grey? The book classified as ‘mommy porn’, well, Sex, Lies DECLASSIFIED was definitely reminiscent of the latter.

Thankfully, this one had more redeeming qualities such as an intriguing story line, set in our very own city of Cape Town and based in Stellenbosch.  The book follows the lives of the Winelands Elite, in particular Jen, wife of renowned wine farmer and businessman John Pearce and continues where the first one finished. Both books are written as fiction to protect the innocent but shows the underbelly of the prominent Stellenbosch community, and boy does it show you. It’s fascinating, and to think its based on truth…

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to read Sex, Lies &  Stellenbosch first, as the story follows on in Declassified. I was highly disappointed when the second ended on a cliffhanger, I was NOT expecting that. So, now I wait, because I REALLY need to know what happens next. Both of these books were enjoyable but be warned because this is definitely an ‘adults only’ book as the sex scenes are a plenty. I did find it a little over the top, and honestly questioned if these people really have as much sex as was portrayed on every few pages…. or if the author just really wanted to write in as many sex scenes as she could. Not that it matters either way, but there is a reason why ‘Sex’ is the first word in both titles of these books…;-)

Eva Mazza’s writing is direct, and to the point.  She tells it like she sees it. It is a writing style that is not for everyone but if you are looking for a sexy, fast paced and scandalous novel about a jet setting community with no holds barred, this is the one for you. Be warned though, there are a couple of scenes in SLD, that are a little harrowing. The vividity of the scene does make it a little horrifying to read, but this just shows us again, that Mazza is a strong voice, and not afraid to use it. No tiptoeing around a subject in this one.

Thank you to Nb Publishers for a review copy of this e-book. I read it about mid way through quarantine. It helped to get my reading mojo back after the initial distraction of lockdown and the new normal that our lives have had to adjust to. It is enjoyable, entertaining, with the right amount of intrigue, and a touch of incredulity… Go on, I dare you.

Sex, Lies Declassified will be available at all good bookstores and online from 18 May 2020. Most bookstores offer delivery options now too, so if you’re itching to get your paws on a copy, you are advised to call ahead, or place your orders now in preparation. And once you have read it, let us know what you thought of it.

 

 

 

 

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Home Grown : The SA Author Campaign III

I hope you are all enjoying these Q & A’s as much as I am! Authors are one of my favourite kinds of people and I always find it so fascinating getting to know the person behind the pages.

Introducing our next { homegrown } writer, Jen Thorpe, author of The Peculiars – (I read this in 2 days straight back in 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it), Living While Feminist,  and her latest,  Feminism Is,  which is a collection of 31 essays by South African Women Feminists. I have yet to read this book but it is on my TBR (I know one of the contributors – shout out to Aimee-Claire – can’t wait to read your essay.

With thanks to NB Publishers for the collaboration, especially during this time where most of us are spending more time at home. So, without further ado, I welcome Jen, and her interview. Go forth and read it, then check out her books.

– Do you have a specific routine that you follow when you sit down to write, or are you able to sit and write at any time?

If I sit down, I write. It’s the sitting down that’s the difficult part. 

When I’m writing fiction, I do like to make sure that my desk is tidy, that I have a blank piece of paper nearby to write down ideas or things I should look up later or try to work out, and a big piece of cardboard where I can write the character names down as I go.

I normally write non-fiction or opinion pieces when something has provoked an emotional response in me. I generally sit down and try to get all my thoughts on paper, and then I clean it up afterwards.

– What book/s are you currently reading?

Fiction: I’ve just finished Naomi Alderman – the Lessons. I’m about to start Anna Burns – Milkman.

Non-fiction: I’ve just finished David Sedaris – Theft by Finding. It was AMAZING. I’m currently reading How Fiction Works by James Wood; In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination by Margaret Atwood; and Rage Becomes Her by Soraya Chemaly.

– Which SA authors have inspired you in your own writing?

So many! Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz, Pumla Gqola, Hedley Twidle, Dominique Botha, Kerry Hammerton, Koleka Putuma, Tlaleng Mofokeng, Maire Fischer and Rahla Xenopoulos in their workshops … I could go on all day. 

I should also say that I find the book festivals in SA very inspiring in terms of coming up with ideas and hearing from other authors. Open Book festival is my absolute favourite.

– Did you always have a passion to write a book or did it / they stealthily creep up on you?

I think a more appropriate description is that I go through periods of giving myself permission to write, and periods of pretending that other things are more important. When I give myself permission then the writing comes, but when I send my attention elsewhere, it doesn’t.

– Which has been your favourite book to write so far?

I really enjoyed writing my forthcoming book, The Fall. I enjoyed plotting the characters and the creativity that comes when you decide that the rules of the real world need not apply in your story. 

– What were your favourite books as a child?

To be honest I just loved reading and would read pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I loved the Famous Five and Secret Seven books, loved Roald Dahl and anything where the grown-ups were getting into trouble. I really enjoyed choose your own adventure books too. I enjoyed horror and scary books but also stories that followed the same characters for several books – so you might find me reading Goosebumps or Stephen King one week and Sweet Valley High the next.

– To date, what is the worst book you have ever read, and why?

In our book club we try to read quite widely, and we went a bit too wide once with an old book called – Iphegenia: The Diary of a Young Lady Who Wrote Because She Was Bored. By the end of it I was bored too, and I hated the main character.

– Do you think SA women writers and authors are treated differently to their male counterparts in the publishing world?

Next year I’ll be studying again and focusing on that topic exactly! So I’ll let you know more once I find out.

My experience in the publishing world has had its good and bad times, but I must say that the all-female publishing team that I get to work with at Kwela are phenomenal and I trust them with my work wholeheartedly.

I think categories like ‘women’s fiction’ are problematic, in that they suggest that there is something a bit odd or different about the way that women write stories, so I’m glad that South African publishers don’t really emphasise that category. 

– If there was one piece of advice you could give to aspiring SA authors, what would it be?

Write, write honestly, write bravely, and write as much as you can. 

BONUS QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

– If we weren’t in lockdown and you could have any authors around your table for dinner, who would they be and why?

David Sedaris (for the humour), Scarlett Thomas (to pick her brain about writing), Malcom Gladwell (because he is interested in everything and I’m sure the conversation would go wild places), Zadie Smith (because I’m a huge fan!), Pettina Gappah (because her writing is just fantastic)… wait, how big is my dinner table?

– What is one item you have either made/ tried/ learn’t while being in lockdown, and was it successful?

I’ve gotten really into drawing during the lockdown and I’m enjoying it. I’ve always been quite into yoga, so I’m glad to have reconnected to that practice.

– While the lockdown was fairly sudden, and our new normal sprang up quickly, what has been a silver lining to you during this time?

I have a few:

  • It gave me some ideas for a new book, and I’ve started writing it. 
  • Our Living While Feminist author party via Zoom.
  • Zoom calls with friends and family to keep you feeling a bit normal. 
  • Yoga! Yoga! Yoga!
  • Spending time with my husband.
  • More open conversations online about the way we work and the new, kinder and better ways we could be doing it.
  • Fiction podcasts.

– We have all had time to realise that we miss certain things or places during this time, what is yours?

I miss the forest and walking on the mountain, the smell of fynbos and earth, the sound of the different birds and how the gravel crunches under my feet. 

I miss hugging my family and friends.

I miss bookshops and art shops.

– What is one pet hate in your current situation with who you live with? Be it a partner, child or animal?

Honestly, I don’t have one.

Thanks so much Jen for chatting to us, it was great to see a snippet of you.  We readers are so blessed with such an abundance of talent in our own country. 

Here’s to week 5, our final in Level 5  Quarantine (we hope). May you all stay safe and well.

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Home Grown : The SA Author Campaign II

I am very pleased to share with you our next author in our author campaign,  Finuala Dowling. I discovered Finuala with her book Homemaking for the Down-At-Heart which I loved. It will forever be one of those books that stay with me because it was set in Kalk Bay, the place I called my home during my teenage years (and one of my favourite places in the world).

A big thanks to NB Publishers for collaborating with me on showcasing a few of our SA women authors, especially during this time of lockdown. This is an easy to read Q&A which I hope you will all enjoy.

Without further ado, I introduce to you,  Finuala Dowling author of Okay Okay Okay.

– Do you have a specific routine that you follow when you sit down to write, or are you able to sit and write at any time?

I like to start writing in the morning,  to be sure of several uninterrupted hours ahead.

 

– What book/s are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Between the Woods and Water, and have moved on to Mavis Gallant’s Selected Stories.

 

– Which SA authors have inspired you in your own writing?

I’ve been inspired by the strong, uncompromising voices of Olive Schreiner, Bessie Head, Antjie Krog and Ingrid de Kok.

 

– Did you always have a passion to write a book or did it / they stealthily creep up on you?

When I was younger I wanted to write a book, now I find that there’s a book that wants me to write it.

 

– Which has been your favourite book to write so far?

My first (published) novel was probably the most fun to write. I only had two months to do it in, and I just let rip.

 

– What were your favourite books as a child?

A Japanese story called ‘Three Strong Women’, and folk and fairy tales generally. I started on Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice when I was twelve or thirteen, and never looked back.

 

– To date, what is the worst book you have ever read, and why?

There are several contenders, but the one I remember left me irritated, confused and infuriated was The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. It’s the third in a series, and I hadn’t read the other two, which might explain my reaction, but it seemed like the book was just an opportunity for the author to show off. I think writers should disappear behind the story, not stand in front of it waving a flag.

 

– Do you think SA women writers and authors are treated differently to their male counterparts in the publishing world?

I think sometimes male SA writers are seen as more worthy of literary critical study.

 

– If there was one piece of advice you could give to aspiring SA authors, what would it be?

Use your first novel to explore a theme or a problem that passionately interests you.

 

BONUS QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

 

– If we weren’t in lockdown and you could have any authors around your table for dinner, who would they be and why?

Lyndall Gordon, Ann Tyler, Elizabeth Strout, Michiel Heyns and Damon Galgut – compassionate, empathetic writers with irony.

 

– What is one item you have either made/ tried/ learn’t while being in lockdown, and was it successful?

I confess that lockdown has forced me to get over my antipathy to Skype.  It isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

 

– While the lockdown was fairly sudden, and our new normal sprang up quickly, what has been a silver lining to you during this time?

The silence that has descended, the uninterrupted hours for writing that have arrived. I no longer wake up feeling threatened about what people will expect from me today. They expect nothing.

 

– We have all had time to realise that we miss certain things or places during this time, what is yours?

I miss the beach, and bottle stores.

 

– What is one pet hate in your current situation with who you live with? Be it a partner, child or animal?

I live with my sister and she’s stopped drinking whiskey because she knows how much I love it.

 

Thank you Finuala for keeping us entertained by answering these questions, it was great to get to see the author behind the books. I look forward to reading your new book.

Heres to Week 4 of Quarantine Lockdown, Day 26 in Cape Town. May you all stay safe and well.

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Homegrown : The SA Author Campaign

I am an avid reader, and particularly love to read South African authors. We have some of the best writers in the world, and with them comes a unique vantage point of relatability. For that reason I do believe we need to support and show them off to the rest of the world.  In March it was International Women’s month which sparked the idea to kick off a campaign representing our female authors – I had seen a run of great books being published so I contacted NB Publishers with regards to showcasing a selection of authors with their latest books, and with that a collaboration was born.

Please welcome Kirsten Miller, author of All that is Left, to our  SA author Q & A Campaign.

 

– Do you have a specific routine that you follow when you sit down to write, or are you able to sit and write at any time?

I don’t have any writing routine. I can write at any time, in any place, in longhand or at a computer. What I love to do is go down to the river in the nature reserve that is just below the house where I live, and sit on the rocks and free-write. I do my best writing when I’m alone, but solitude is a luxury I don’t often have anymore. So I do try to get away by myself when I can – even to a coffee shop or to the beach. I can edit my own work, though, when other people are around, if I have to. It’s the initial writing phase that’s more difficult for me, if I have the distraction of other people’s presence.

– What book/s are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Michael Ondaartje’s Running in the Family and I’m re-reading Yuval Noah Harari’s Homo Deus. I’ve also just started Orhan Pamuk’s Snow. I try to keep a book of fiction and one of non-fiction going at the same time.

– Which SA authors have inspired you in your own writing?

Sello Duiker is probably the South African author whose writing I most admire. I think his body of work over time would have been phenomenal, if it hadn’t been too painful for him to continue. One of the most memorable short stories I’ve ever read was Lidudumalingani Mqombothi’s Memories We Lost, for which he won the Caine Prize. That kind of writing inspires me and keeps me reaching for beautiful, quality literature.

– Did you always have a passion to write a book or did it / they stealthily creep up on you?

I always have a book I want to write, but they do all creep up on me. I first tried to write a book when I was seven. When I was fourteen completed a full-length manuscript of a novel. I don’t have it anymore and no doubt it was terrible. But writing books is something that I’ve always felt  motivated or driven to do. I like the process as much as the end goal. For me, writing is not unlike dreaming.

– Which has been your favourite book to write so far?

My previous novel, The Hum of the Sun, published in 2018 by Kwela, has been my favourite book so far. I like the main characters, Ash and Zuko, very much. I spent a focused year on that novel, during which I visited my parents for a couple of weeks. My mother cooked for me and I could just write and didn’t have to do anything else, so I had a small window of uninterrupted time. That was a great gift.

– What were your favourite books as a child?

I only realized as an adult how privileged I was that, after food, my mother prioritized books over everything else. I had access to libraries from before I went to school. Some of our best writers in South Africa only stepped into a library for the first time when they were students, or adults, because of the apartheid system. That is such a terrible thing to do to people. I went through various reading stages, depending on my age. When I was very young it was The World of Pooh, The Wind in the Willows and some of the Oz books. Later I had a wonderful book of folk tales called The Potato King that I read repeatedly, and I still have it. I have a Roald Dahl collection, and Danny the Champion of the World was my favourite for a long time. The relationship between Danny and his father captivated me, and a part of me still wants to live in a caravan. There was also a book in our house called Things to Make and Do. I loved paging through it, wishing I could make everything in it. I read JM Coetzee’s The Life and Times of Michael K when I was about thirteen or fourteen, and this book fundamentally opened up my awareness of what was going on in my country.

– To date, what is the worst book you have ever read, and why?

I don’t have a worst book. If a book isn’t doing it for me on either a narrative, character or language level, I get bored and move on. As a consequence I’ve read so many books but none I consider bad! Life is too short, and there are too many great books to read.

– Do you think SA women writers and authors are treated differently to their male counterparts in the publishing world?

Yes. Not by those in the book publishing industry, but certainly by readers and by the media. The act of reading itself is still so gendered. For so many hundreds of years the presumed reader was always male, and women writers would adopt a male pseudonym. And it persists that women today read books by authors who are men and authors who are women, whereas men primarily read books by other men. I have been called a woman writer a few times by readers in panel discussions and each time it’s a jolt, because I have never heard of anyone being addressed as a ‘man writer’. I understand that previously marginalised groups such as black writers and women writers need increased representation because of previous and current power imbalances, but I think that’s the wrong way to go about it. I would completely support the term ‘feminist writer,’ for instance, as feminism is an ideology that is chosen and assumed in the sense of being taken on deliberately. Being a woman is out of my control. It’s unchosen. I don’t think it’s fair to separate women from other writers because of it. It only entrenches difference and stereotyping. If we’re reading and engaging with texts, we know who the writers are. One can’t assume that I have a particular agenda or narrative content because I’m a woman. I’m a writer. A novel writer or a fiction writer. That’s it. That’s the kind of world I hope we can get to.

– If there was one piece of advice you could give to aspiring SA authors, what would it be?

If you are lucky enough to get comments and feedback when you submit your work, don’t be too proud to consider these carefully and keep crafting what you’ve written. Work for improving quality. Don’t underestimate the value of a good story, and the beauty of language. Not only will this improve your own writing, but it will continue to raise the standard of South African literature.

BONUS QUARANTINE QUESTIONS:

– If we weren’t in lockdown and you could have any authors around your table for dinner, who would they be and why?

Emanuel Dongala (Johnny Mad Dog) and Mandla Langa (The Texture of Shadows), because I have had conversations with these authors in the past and they have lived through political histories that people forget too easily. I would love to hear more of their stories and their experiences. Maya Angelou (I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings), if she were alive, because of her incredible depth of understanding about being human and to talk about the influence of blues music on her work, and Haruki Murakami (Kafka On The Shore), because I would like to tell him in person how much I enjoy his books.

– What is one item you have either made/ tried/ learnt while being in lockdown, and was it successful?

Launching All That is Left (Kwela) online was interesting – I actually enjoyed it very much! It felt more intimate than a real-life launch, and it made it possible for my mother to be there. Also, at the last minute the Time of the Writer Festival had to teleport to an on-line platform so, as one of the participants, it was interesting and challenging to do a 3-way live twitter interview for the first time. I’ve certainly learnt a few skills, having had to engage more with technology during the lockdown.

– While the lockdown was fairly sudden, and our new normal sprang up quickly, what has been a silver lining to you during this time?

It’s given me time to clean the house properly. This has been a relief and incredibly satisfying. Not having a daily commute has also given me an hour and twenty extra minutes to my weekdays. That’s six hours and forty minutes every week. Time is my most valuable resource. It is one thing we can never get back.

– We have all had time to realise that we miss certain things or places during this time, what is yours?

I miss the smiles of and interactions with colleagues, I miss being able to have coffee or a drink with a friend, I miss laughter, I miss my morning sea swims and my afternoon walks.

– What is one pet hate in your current situation with who you live with? Be it a partner, child or animal?

Just the inability to be alone sometimes. I think I absorb the presence of other people too easily. This impacts my writing, and slows it down..

Thank you Kirsten for sharing your thoughts and time with us, it was lovely getting to know the person behind the book. If anyone would like a sneak peak into All That Is Left you can read an extract here.

And here’s to week three of Quarantine Lockdown, day 19 in Cape Town. May you all stay safe and well.

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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.

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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?

 

 

 

 

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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!

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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!

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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?

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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?

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