The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

Sea Star Summer by Sally Partridge (and a trip down memory lane)

Sally Partridge is a new to me SA author who writes YA fiction. I discovered her via nbpublishers advertising her {online} book launch, which I subsequently joined.  This was at the start of Lockdown and her book has now been published as an ebook. Sally approached me to participate in her Insta Book Blog Tour of her latest book Sea Star  Summer which I jumped at the chance to do, celebrating and sharing SA authors is my ‘thing’ right?

I received a copy of her book which I read in a couple of days. It is an easy read, one I thoroughly enjoyed (now, I want to read all her books), what I wasn’t expecting was a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Sea Star Summer

The Blurb:

All sixteen-year-old Naomi wants to do over December is read books and avoid other people. Jeffreys Bay promises the perfect drama-free holiday. But when she encounters the strange and imaginative Elize on the beach, everything changes. Elize, however, isn’t the first to notice the awkward, red-haired newcomer and soon Naomi finds herself caught between a blue-eyed local surfer and Elize’s dark and mysterious brother. But what if Naomi is drawn to someone altogether different . . . 

Not only does this book tackle the  idea of ‘normal’,  it also tackles sexuality, feminism and our idea of societies expectations. If you are participating in Pride month – June, this is a perfect book to read. Set in Jeffrey’s Bay, our main character is a geeky red haired loner who discovers she prefers the company of her new friend Eliza, to the completely different male counterparts who find her particularly enticing Marius and Daniel.

One section in the novel shows a particularly dark side of one of the young boys who is rather keen on Naomi, and sadly that is a very real factor in our society. I can only thank the author for not going down that path.

I love how Naomi is portrayed and how this holiday gives her the opportunity to explore her sexuality even when she wasn’t expecting to, when all she thought she wanted was to hide away and read.  This book was a tender look at love, acceptance, imagination, home, family and Sally managed to bring all those elements together with ease.  This apt coming of age novel is set in Jeffery’s Bay, South Africa and a book set in my home country, with our own particular slang is always a pleasure to read.

Sea Star Summer was particularly reminiscent of myself at her age.  Young, geeky, nose constantly in a book, and then life happened. The stirrings of young love, tender kisses, coming out – or not- silent to those who care the most but expect a normal of their own making. Oh, it was a nostalgic wander down my past as I read this book. First kisses, the delight, the fear, the angst, the wondering what comes next. The indecision, the am I, aren’t I , the labels. The exploration of sexuality. While the ending of Naomi’s story is only her beginning, I love that the author didn’t label her, allowing the character to be who she imagined herself to be.

It’s not often a book provokes nostalgia in me, but this had me digging through old photographs, old diaries remembering my 20year old self, remembering past girlfriends, those first kisses. Remembering how young and inexperienced and naive I was. How our life paths ramble along in ways we don’t expect, friendships that make us, that change us. How fear of being different can limit our lives in ways we least expect and how hitting our forties gives an insight we really don’t have in our twenties.

I would recommend you read this book. It may not ignite any sort of nostalgia within you but it is a book that shows that normal can mean many things, and for any young person wondering if girls liking girls, or boys liking boys, or any which way you look at it is ok, this confirms that it is.

Thank you Sally for a delightful read, a wander down my memory lane, and to NBpublishers for the review e-book copy. Go, get yourself a copy at your local bookstore and give it a read. Then, like me, go in search of more of Sally’s books. ( I think we need Sally to do join our {Homegrown} Q&A series don’t you?)

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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. 

 

BONUS LOCKDOWN QUESTIONS:

– 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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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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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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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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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.

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2017 Book Reviews Top 10

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

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

No 10

boundless sublime

The Boundless Sublime – Lili Wilkinson

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

No 9

caraval

Caraval – Stephanie Garber

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

NO 8

more than this

More than this – Patrick Ness

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

No 7

the jewel

The Lone City Series started with The Jewel

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

No 6

beautiful

Beautiful broken things – Sara Barnard

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

No 5

fever

Deon Meyer – Fever

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

No 4

conception

Ms Conception – Pamela Power

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

No 3

bear

Beartown – Fredrik Backman

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

N0 2

eleanor

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine – Gail Honeyman

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

No 1

music

The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce

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

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

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

Happy Reading!

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