The Book Club Blog

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{HOMEGROWN} The SA Author Campaign IIII

Have you ever discovered an author whose writing just melted in your mouth as you savoured their sentences?

This happened to myself and my daughter recently when we discovered Witchfield by local author Nicole Rimensberger. We were both delighted with this middle grade book aimed at age 8 – 12 year olds so keep your eyes peeled for our reviews soon.

In the meantime, please enjoy a Q&A with Nicole in our Homegrown series, highlighting the best of local talent in South African authors.


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

I would love to be able to say I have a routine when it comes to writing, but the truth is I don’t. As someone who works fulltime and has kids, it goes without saying that life is busy. I end up writing in whatever cracks of time that are available to me – I can’t be fussy, otherwise there would never be any sentences on the page. So, basically, writing is punctuated by endless interruptions and happens in messy bits and pieces.

– What book/s are you currently reading?

I’m usually always reading something, but I have found the lockdown has affected my ability to sit down and be still enough to absorb a novel. This has made me quite sad. Recently I did read Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling and I’ve just finished Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’m really hoping that I’m slowly crawling my way out of this reading slump!

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

Lauren Beukes, Marlene Van Niekerk, Clare Robertson, Fred Khumalo. There are, sadly, not many South African middle grade authors out there (if you are one – please say hi, I would love to meet you!)

My current favourite children’s authors are Lemony Snicket, Sophie Anderson, Sharon Creech, Kate DiCamillo, Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman… how much space am I allowed?

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

It’s always been there, like a bad habit I couldn’t shake. 

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

What? That’s like asking which is my favourite child.

– What were your favourite books as a child?

I have to admit, I was a big Enid Blyton fan – those improbable, page-turning adventure stories and the endless possibilities offered by the magical elements like the Faraway Tree. They got me hooked.

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

That’s a difficult question! I don’t actually have one I would describe as worst. There are books that I’ve read that have not spoken to me, but that’s something that happens between the reader and the text. For example, I admire Zakes Mda’s work and his skill as a writer, but for some reason I don’t fully understand, I just don’t connect to his work – and I’ve tried a number of times with different titles. 

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

I honestly can’t answer this question because, having gone an independent/alternative route, I’ve not had much experience with publishers!

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

To write. Regardless. 



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

J.K. Rowling of course! I really admire what she did for children’s books and reading in general – I want to pick her brain about all sorts of things.

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

I have had a very un-Pinterest friendly lockdown and can sadly report no crafting, meditating, baking or acquiring of new skills (other than remote working). It’s just been survival – I’ve done things like feed my children (usually food they make faces at), clean the toilet, do laundry, do Zoom. The kind of stuff no one really wants to know about.

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

Being together as a family and not having to do the mad morning rush to school and work.

I’ve also discovered that there is a kind of magic that is trapped under the canopy of trees that one only sees when lying under them.

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

A glass of wine with friends! Book shops! The wide-open spaces of the Drakensberg.

– What is something that you struggle with in your current situation with who you live with?

It’s been intense – being stuck at home means being “on” all the time when it comes to parenting, regardless of how much stuff you have to get done, but I wouldn’t say I’ve struggled with being home with my partner and our girls. If anything, I’m very grateful I wasn’t alone through lockdown!


Thank you so much for joining us, Nicole,  for the {HOMEGROWN} series. Now that bookstores are open, (we are thankfully no longer in Level 5 Lockdown, and in fact, will soon be heading into Level 3) you can head to your local bookstore or buy Witchfield online via Amazon. Find Nicole on Instagram @hellotypewriter. Head on over to our Instagram or Facebook page to enter our Giveaway to win yourself a copy of Witchfield. 

Stay safe as we continue to brave our new world.

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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!


Drumroll please…

And the winner of the literary blog hop is:








The winning no                                                                                                                                                              names and entries


Lynne Clark! Please send me your postal addy so I can get your book to you ASAP!


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Literary Give away blog hop time!

The Blog Hop Giveaway is now closed. Winner will be announced on Friday!

Apologies for late post, I have been slack, and completely forgot the date, but without further ado…

I am part of the literary blog hop which was started by Leeswammes and I have had the pleasure of winning a book or two through this hop. There are many other blogs taking part, and you can win all sorts of bookish things! The Hop runs from the 8th – 12th Feb 2014.

So, here is my give away:

You can win a copy of either of these three books:

1) Mr Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore – Robin Sloan


2 ) The Language of Flowers – Vanessa Diffenbough


3) The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Dover Thrift Edition

All I thoroughly enjoyed reading and would highly recommend!

Any one can enter as long as The Book Depository sends to your country.

What do you need to do?

* Comment on this post with which book you would like to win, and one book which blew your mind reading, or at least fluttered your skirt.

* Tweet about this giveaway mentioning @thebookclubblog +1

* Like our Facebook page here +1

* please leave an email address that I can contact you on if you win

* When you comment, please state wether you have liked and tweeted.

* Winners will be announced on Valentines Day


Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Seaside Book Nook
  3. Booklover Book Reviews
  4. Biblionomad
  5. Laurie Here
  6. The Well-Read Redhead (US/CA)
  7. River City Reading
  8. GirlVsBookshelf
  9. Ciska’s Book Chest
  10. The Book Stop
  11. Ragdoll Books Blog
  12. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  13. Lucybird’s Book Blog
  14. Reading World (N-America)
  15. Journey Through Books
  16. Readerbuzz
  17. Always With a Book (US)
  18. 52 Books or Bust (N.Am./UK)
  19. Guiltless Reading (US/CA)
  20. Book-alicious Mama (US)
  21. Wensend
  22. Books Speak Volumes
  23. Words for Worms
  24. The Relentless Reader
  25. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall (US)
  1. Fourth Street Review
  2. Vailia’s Page Turner
  3. The Little Reader Library
  4. Lost Generation Reader
  5. Heavenali
  6. Roof Beam Reader
  7. Mythical Books
  8. Word by Word
  9. The Misfortune of Knowing
  10. Aymaran Shadow > Behind The Scenes
  11. The Things You Can Read (US)
  12. Bay State Reader’s Advisory
  13. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  14. Lizzy’s Literary Life
  15. Books Can Save a Life (N. America)
  16. Words And Peace (US)
  17. The Book Club Blog

Springtime Giveaway!

and this time it is international.

One lucky Book Club Blog reader will win any book of your choosing up to the value of $15 from The Book Depository, please check to see that they deliver to your country.

What do you need to do to enter?

3 simple steps.

1) Like us on FB

2) Share this give away via blog/twitter/facebook, either or, you choose

3) Tell us your favourite springtime reading either book title or author or what you hope to read this Spring or what you have read this Spring. You choose.

And thats it!

Please make sure that you leave an email address in order to get hold of you if you win. No email address, no entry;-(

On the 23rd September 2013 I will put all your names into a hat and my daughter will choose one. Yes, it really is as easy as all that. So,what are you waiting for??


Q&A with Riaan Manser and an Awesome Give away!

As promised here is the interview with Riaan Manser, author of Around Africa On My Bicycle, Around Madagascar on my Kayak and Around Iceland on Inspiration.

Enjoy it, I have to say that I have great admiration for this man and what he does! As I used in my Pilates this morning: What doesn’t challenge you won’t change you! So very apt I think!

So, without further ado, Ladies and Gentleman, I present Riaan Manser!

1)    In writing ‘Around Africa on my bicycle’ did you find it difficult to remember your journey in as vivid detail as what you described? Especially when your notes were stolen?

Not at all. My diary was stolen on the Around Madagascar circumnavigation but returned after the robbers were caught the next evening while robbing someone else.

My Africa circumnavigation was different. I wrote notes on small pieces of paper and sent them home every now and then. It was amazing how many notes I had taken throughout the two years. I remember writing the Around Africa book and been mesmerized at how not only memories flooded back but even distinct smells!

2) If there was just one memory that you could keep from your journey around Africa what would it be?

Crossing that finish line feeling. It was unbelievable to imagine someone actually took a bicycle where I had and HOW I had. And that person was ME. Strange to say but it probably was the first time in my life where I was genuinely proud of myself.

 3) Since traversing the African continent (including climbing Mount Kilaminjaro -which is definitely on my ‘list of things to do before I die) and kayaking around Iceland and Madagascar, is there anything in your ‘creature comforts’ of home that could compare with any of those expeditions?

I love sleeping on the floor. Just a blanket over me and maybe a few books as a pillow. I also have a weird obsession with cold weather. I don’t like getting too hot.

 4) How did you meet Dan Skinstad and how did he need much convincing in order to go around Iceland on a kayak?

Nope Dan was super eager. I had met him through his famous big brother. Dan pulled at my heart string and I wanted to do something for him that would change his life. I think we accomplished that in the Iceland circumnavigation.

 5) What is your main inspiration to be exceptional?

I don’t have a father who I can look up to and appreciate. A father I can brag about and call on when times are tough. My goal is simple. I want to make a legend of my life so my children one day can be proud of me. Probably every man’s goal I think.

 6) What was it like to meet Mandela, our heart of our nation? 

 Surreal. Mr Mandela is what all human beings want to be. That humanness that cannot be reproduced or bottled. The time I spent with Mr Mandela was probably the highlight of my career thus far. The special moment in our meeting was when he paused for a long time. Looking me square in the eyes, and then telling me that I don’t realize how great an achievement this Africa journey was. He said it is a journey that will inspire the youth of our continent .

 7) In your book, you alluded to your childhood and foster care, do you think that you would write a book about your experiences there? 

Without a doubt. I’m just very sensitive about it and not brave enough. I grew up feeling inadequate , abandoned and unwanted. It’s cowardly I guess but I will in time share everything.

8) What is your hardest part about putting pen to paper and telling us readers about your journeys?

All writers will tell you that there are days when the words just flow and you’re a runaway train . Then there are those days where you cannot even get a paragraph out in one days sitting. Hyper self critique is the most debilitating .

 9) How did you decide on your charity ‘ No food for Lazy man’ to work with children and sport. I really like that they need to give back in some way, in this day and age so many children grow up with a sense of entitlement but yet give nothing in return or even work for that sense of entitlement. 

 You’re spot on. But the reality is that that entitlement you speak of is taught. Children don’t expect unless someone is always just giving.  I want any kid that is blessed through NO FOOD FOR LAZYMAN to pass that blessing on, in which ever way they can. Two things are taught and learnt here. One is that nothing in life is free. And secondly , no matter how dire your situation you can still help someone else.

 10) Would you like to have children of your own one day? And if so, would you do an adventure with your child?

Having children is actually my BIGGEST dream. I want to have 6 kids if possible. My kids entire life with me will be an adventure!

And there you have it! Admit it, you feel inspired don’t you?

And now, we have an awesome give away! We are giving away one of your choice of Riaan’s books. Choose one out of his three books AND get a personalised inscription in the front cover!

What do you need to do to stand a chance to win?

* Tell us in the comments section one crazy thing you have either done, or would like to do with your life.

* Share this giveaway on FB, twitter and/or your blog (an extra entry for each one)

* Make sure you include an email address so we can contact you if you win.

Simple as that!

So, even if you are not inspired, maybe you know of someone who needs that little nudge in following their dreams and knowing that anything is possible if you put your mind to it? Enter on behalf of them and get a personalised inscription from the man himself.

This give away is unfortunately Not international.

Get your comments on and holding thumbs you win!

Give away closes on the 13th June and the winner announced on the 14th.

You can see my reviews here and here.


Children’s book give away!

Cat over at Juggling Act is having a wonderful give away of a fabulous children’s book.

And not just any book, this is  a garden book, called Roots, Shoots and Muddy Boots by Samantha van Riet. Even the name is fabulous. The book comes in two parts, first how to grow your veggie garden and the second part how to use your freshly grown produce in recipes. What a wonderful way to introduce your child to the pleasures of growing your own food!

So what do you need to do to win this gorgeous book?

Rules for entries:
1. Leave a comment on Cat’s blog telling her which veggie is your kid’s favorite as well as your language preference and one on Sam’s blog’s either on the current post or her special Valentine’s post tomorrow. If want to win either of the English or Afrikaans versions, tell her and she will enter you in both the draws. (and your chance doubles, just because both Sam and Cat are both Afrikaans). You have to leave a comment on both blogs for an entry.
2. For extra entries, tweet about the competition mentioning Cat @catjuggles and leave a comment on her blog that you have done it.
3. For another extra entry share about the competition on your Facebook profile and leave a comment on her blog that you have done it.
4. For another extra entry  blog about the competition and leave a comment with the link on her blog.

Easy Peasy as Gemma says!

This give away is only open to South African residents or someone with a South African postal address.

Winner will be chosen by and competition closes at 1 pm on Tuesday 19 February 2013 so best your get entries in!

And good luck! I am hoping to win a copy for Gem’s’ birthday next month!

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And the Valentine’s day Literary Blog Hop winner is…

Picture taken from here

ISA from CHASING QUILLS who will receive a copy of TheHundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared via Book Depository.


I will send you an email and if there is no response within three days I will choose another winner.

See you all in the next blog hop!


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Literary Blog Hop


Yes, it is that time of year again! Blog hop hosted by Judith at Leeswammes.

So, this time I thought I would do it slightly differently and give away a choice of two South African books. They are two vastly different genre’s but both are extremely good,and the authors are deserving of a give away, well, I thought so! Edited to add: I also thought that I should give away one of my favourite books of 2013 ( I know we are only into the second month of this year…) but I truly loved it and for the non South African blog hoppers, just in case, they are daunted by only SA authors…;-)

My choices are:

Spud – John van der Ruit


It’s South Africa, 1990. The country still squirms under the iron fist of apartheid. Two major events are about to happen: The release of Nelson Mandela, and more importantly, it’s Spud Milton’s first year at an elite boys only private boarding school. Cursed with parents from well beyond the lunatic fringe, a senile granny, and a dormitory full of strange characters, Spud has to forge a new life for himself in this foreign and sometimes hostile environment. Surrounded by names such as Gecko, Rambo, Rain Man and Mad Dog, Spud takes his first tentative steps along the path towards manhood. (The path, it seems, could be a rather long road.) Armed with only his wits and his diary, Spud takes us from illegal nightswimming to the cricket field, from ghostbusting to teacher baiting. He also invites us into the mind of a boy struggling to come to terms with a strange new world; a boy whose eyes are being opened to love, friendship and complete insanity.

13 Hours – Deon Meyer


Now they are chasing Rachel Anderson through the streets of Cape Town. The young tourist doesn’t dare trust anyone – except her father, back home in America. When he puts pressure on the politicians, they know that to protect their country’s image, they must find Rachel’s hiding place before the killers.So Benny Griessel – detective, maverick and father of teenagers himself – has just 13 hours to crack open a conspiracy which threatens the whole country.

The official Deon Meyer website

The 100 year old man who climbed out of the window and dissapeared – Jonas Jonasson ( I actually won this book on the last blog hop!)

On his one-hundredth birthday Allan Karlsson makes his escape from the old people’s home and embarks on an unlikely and momentous adventure. The international bestselling phenomenon by Swedish sensation Jonas Jonasson.


What you need to do in order to win your choice of either of these two books, sent you to you via The Book Depository (please check that they deliver to your country) is:

* Because it is the month of love and I am feeling the love, I would like to know one romantic/love filled gesture that you have done in your lifetime and leave me a comment telling me  together with your email address and which book you would like to win.

*Tweet me  

*Like us on FB ( if you haven’t already!)

Please ensure you leave your email address as if you don’t your comment will automatically be disqualified.

Winners will be notified on Valentine’s Day!

Check out the rest of the list of blog hoppers ( there are about 40 of us, and that means a a 40 in one chance of winning something if you enter every one…) and Have Fun!


Linky List:

  1. Leeswammes
  2. The Book Garden
  3. Sam Still Reading
  4. Candle Beam Book Blog
  5. Ciska’s Book Chest
  6. Too Fond
  7. Alex in Leeds
  8. Under a Gray Sky
  9. Bibliosue
  10. The Book Club Blog
  11. Fingers & Prose
  12. Lori Howell
  13. Rikki’s Teleidoscope
  14. Girl vs Bookshelf
  15. Lizzy’s Literary Life (Europe)
  16. Booklover Book Reviews
  17. The Blog of Litwits
  18. Reading World (USA/Can)
  19. Seaside Book Nook
  20. Curiosity Killed the Bookworm
  21. The Book Diva’s Reads
  22. Breieninpeking (Europe)
  23. 2606 Books and Counting
  24. Giraffe Days
  25. Lucybird’s Book Blog
  1. Roof Beam Reader
  2. The Relentless Reader
  3. Read in a Single Sitting
  4. My Diary (Malaysia)
  5. Heavenali
  6. Dolce Belezza (USA)
  7. The Misfortune of Knowing
  8. My Devotional Thoughts
  9. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  10. Book Nympho
  11. Kaggsysbookishramblings
  12. Quixotic Magpie
  13. Lost Generation Reader
  14. BookBelle
  15. Under My Apple Tree (USA)
  16. Mondays with Mac
  17. Page Plucker

Give Away!

It is January 2013 and I don’t know about you, but around mid January I miss the gift giving knowing that its only going to happen again at the end of the year (or birthdays which are sprinkled throughout the year…)

So, I have a give away just for you.

One of my favourite books from 2012:

Shades by Marguerite Poland

This was the first book I had read by Marguerite Poland and I loved it. You can read my review over here and if you would like to win this copy, all you need to do, is leave me a comment with your  No1 top read of 2012.  One lucky winner will be chosen by and the winner announced on Friday the 18th January. This give away is open world wide so spread the word..!

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