The Book Club Blog

Books for any occasion and other life stuff

Random Kak

by Trevor Romain.

Thank you Penguin SA for my review copy of Random Kak. I read it in one sittting and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I had a good few chuckles while reading his memories as some are just so very classic and no one in the 2000’s would really have a clue as to what he is on about!

Some which would include:

‘using a rotary phone where you actually ‘dialed’ someone’s number

‘making scoubidous at school’

‘rewinding a tape with a pencil’

And those are just a few of the nostalgic memories that Trevor takes you down the lane of .

I have to admit that because I am an eighties baby some of the things he remembers are out of my time zone but just as funny and poignant as the rest.

I think this is a fabulous book to show your chidren who are growing up in a much more technical world than what us ‘oldies’ did and it brings back some very fond memories of ones childhood.

Funny how life has changed so drastically since the 70’s and 80’s! What it does bring to mind, reading this book, is that even though life has changed, memories are still important and living in South Africa is a unique experience, one that I wouldn’t change for the world.

Go and get yourself a copy now and give it a read, then read it to your children, and your grandchildren all while having a good chuckle!

And on a last note: who remembers “It’s not inside, it’s on top!”??

And now for a Q&A with the man himself, courtesy of Penguin Books SA:


How did all the ‘Random Kak’ chaos start? What made you decide to put this book together and how did you go about doing it?

I was talking to a buddy of mine one day and we were remembering high school in Johannesburg and how teachers would cane us when we made kak. I started drawing all the different types of canes teachers used to flap us with on a serviette, like willow branches, walking sticks, takkies and even a cricket bat.

I posted this drawing on various Facebook pages and people started responding with their own memories of being flapped. Then I starteddoing other little drawings about silly, crazy and even poignant things I remember about my childhood. I titled the pages ‘Random Kak I Remember about Growing up in SA’. Within days the pictures went viral. South Africans were sending them to other South Africans all over the world. I even got them sent to me without the person knowing that I was the idiot who drew them.

You’re based in Austin, Texas now – What are the five things that you miss most about South Africa?

Braaivleis, rugby, Mrs Balls’ chutney, Castle Lager and my ma.

How did you get into illustrating and do you have any advice for up and coming illustrators?

Actually I was told I wasn’t talented enough to take art at high school and, like an idiot, I believed the teacher so I only started drawing seriously in my 30’s. Since then I have written and illustrated over 50 kids books. I just got over my midlife crisis, but I’m okay.

My advice for up and coming illustrators is to have fun with art and try hard not to judge yourself by how close to real life your drawing is. Some of my favourite drawings are just dumb doodles but man, are they fun and lekker to draw.

We know that there’s lots of other Random Kak that you’re involved in besides this book – What are some of the other projects that you’re busy with at the moment?

Right now I am working on a new kids’ book series. I continue to work on my animated TV series and I’m working on an inspirational book called “I Woke up This Morning and I Was Alive”. I am also currently on a kids motivational speaking tour around the world. Oh and I’ve just started Random Kak book two! I’m busy ek sê. But I love what I do.

What are you hoping to achieve with this book?

My dream is that this book, like my drawings that went viral, will help people remember their own ‘wonder years’. My hope is that my personal random kak will trigger their own random kak so they can enjoy their memories and share them with family and friends. Nelson Mandela once said that when a person dies their library of stories dies with them. I want to try and help people keep their stories and memories alive. So far, everyone who has seen the book and the thousands of people who have seen the drawings have been instantly transported back to their own good old days. I am thrilled to be the fool who figured out how to help people travel back through the years without using a time machine or illegal substances.

(Thanks Trevor, it brought back many memories for me, so your hope is definitely doing its job!)

Do you have a message for the readers?

Yes. Release your inner monkey. Laugh your arse off. Cry if you are moved. Allow yourself to wallow in the times that defined who you are today.

Follow Trevor Romain on Twitter @TrevorRomain


For all you food lovers out there, a Q&A with Jackie Cameron

Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home, One of my new favourite cookbooks at the moment… check out my review here. I promise you won’t be disappointed with this cook book…

Thanks Jackie for doing a Q&A with The Book Club Blog!

1) In a market that is saturated with cookbooks, what do you think makes yours unique?

I find a lot of recipe books out there are trying to prove to the world that the authors are extremely creative and know about food.  So they are doing items that impress on paper so a stew fruit with a rose syrup this and a lavender essence that…in my book you find a delicious STEW FRUIT just how my grandmother would make.  No bells and whistles just great flavours.  I am not trying to prove to the world that I can cook (I am confident in this fact) I’m merely trying to help the house-cook to improve their day-to-day cooking.  To bring the how-to recipe book filled with recipes that work.  I truly believe if people are cooking better at home they will expect a higher level of food in restaurants and in-turn the entire level of food will step up.

2) What made you decide to write a cookbook?

Why not…I wanted to do one by the age of 30-I just wanted that!  I started writing my Witness Newspaper column years ago as a base to work off.  It was all aligning me in understanding the basics in recipe writing, development and truly what people enjoy cooking.  The more comments I get the more popular I feel the recipe.  With everything I do there is normally a very well thought through process of which I go through to ensure I can make the most out of the situation I throw myself into.

3) Clearly a food lover, your book “Jackie Cameron Cooks At Home’ has some lovely recipes for an aspiring foodie, what is your favourite recipe from your book and why?

This is like asking a parent which child is his or her favourite.  Every recipe in the book I have a connection with and a little story to go with it…all are very special in one or other way.

4) What is your favourite memory associated with food and why?

Most of my foodie-memories are around childhood happiness around a kitchen or dining room table.

5) Because this is a book blog interview, what books do you like to read when you are not cooking?

I am always reading something foodie if the time allows.  Always trying to learn and improve the knowledge of which I have.  From recipe books to memoirs.

6) Do you have a favourite author?

Any foodie author…Thomas Keller’s recipe books to Gordan Ramsey’s memoirs to Anthony Bourdain-Kitchen confidential.  All must reads of which I can learn and gain from reading.

7) Who are your foodie inspirations?

I am inspired not only by the world-class chefs out-there but also by the environment I live and the people I work with.

8) What is the weirdest thing that you have a) cooked and b) eaten?

Mapani worms.  I cooked these for a South African celebration event in Prague.  Not ideal.

9) What to you do in your ‘off’ time?

Off time…what is that? ; ) There is nothing better than going to Pennington on the South Coast, were we have a cottage, and just chilling.

10) Tell us one thing about yourself that is not public knowledge.

That is difficult as I am pretty-open.  I am looking into getting a pet-pig as I think this will be wonderfully different.  Imagine walking a pig!  My pig can enjoy all our kitchen leftovers…I hate waste ; )  We shall see many people are steering me against this.

Thank you for doing an interview with The Book Club Blog.  I love your cook book and will be trying out your chocolate chip cookies and corn fritters this week.

Wonderful, I am so so so sorry for the delay.  Things have been crazy!Thanks so very much for asking me to do this.  Your support is appreciated!  Hope you enjoyed the cookies and corn fritters ; )

Yes, Jackie, the cookies were delicious and the fritters are now a weekly regular round at our house!



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And the winner of our Awesome Give away is…..


Barefoot Med Student!

Congratulations! And say thanks to for picking your number;-)

And email will be sent out to you asking for all your details that we need.

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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.


Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home – my opinion

I Love Cookbooks.

I am not ashamed to admit that at all. I love how different chefs have different takes on a meal, and the addition or subtraction of an ingredient can change a meal in an instance.

I received this book from Penguin Books SA and what a delightful cook book this is, in a sea of cook books, one can always ask, ‘what is unique about this one’? Why should I buy another cookbook? What is it going to teach me about cooking?

Well, for me, the uniqueness of this particular book is in its honest and easy approach to food. The photography is purely delicious as are the recipes – the ones I have tried so far – and the ones I plan to try this week. Yes, I admit it, I have meal planned out of it since I received it a week ago.

Last week we tried the corn fritters, easy and tasty and a nice addition to tomato soup for our Meat Free Mondays. This week I have tuna fishcakes, wasabi baby potatoes and chocolate chip cookies to try out. The chocolate chip cookies will be given as a thank you gift (and some for me, of course) and considering I am a Huge wasabi fan, I am looking forward to trying out a new spin on an old favorite. One of the few things my daughter eats with relish is fish so I am going to try my hand at the tuna fishcakes, much healthier and I am positive, much tastier than shop bought ones!

So, if you are asking Why should I buy another cook book? Well, my answer is this: the recipes are easy, food delicious and if you are in a cooking rut, making the same meals week in and week out, this is a fabulous book to try new things!

Just, be sure to let me know what you try out and we can compare our results;-)

Jackie Cameron Cooks at Home retails from Kalahari for R225 and Exclusives for R212 at the time of this post.

Happy Cooking!


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The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

The review you have all been waiting for!

So, before we get down to the nitty gritty part of this review, I have to first admit to not having read any of her other books. I tried Moxieland but could not get into it and abandoned it not very far in. So, it was with slight trepidation that I picked this one up to check it out. I read the back cover –

The girl who wouldn’t die.

Hunting a killer who shouldn’t exist.

(Those first two sentences already had me intrigued)

Chicago, 1931. Violent drifter Harper Curtis stumbles upon a house that hides a secret as shocking as his own twisted nature: it opens onto other times. Harper uses it to stalk his ‘shining girls’ across decades – and cut the fire out of them.

He’s the perfect killer. Unstoppable. Untraceable. Until one of his victims survives and turns the hunt around.

Chicago, 1992. Kirby Mazrachi’s determination to find the man who tried to kill her has taken over her life. The cops no longer return her calls. Her mother copes by writing morbid children’s books. Her only ally is Dan, the burnt-out ex-homicide reporter who covered her case.

As Kirby closes in on her would-be killer, what she finds is…impossible. Murders scattered across the decades along with evidence that makes no sense.

Meanwhile Harper is closing in on her too.

The premise of this book is what intrigued me. The idea of a time travel thriller was a unique and novel one. So, I started to read it in the bookshop. I always like to read a few pages before I buy a book (I’m sure I am not the only person to do this??) and Lauren Beukes writing gripped me from page one. Unlike her previous novels.

It was creepy and gripping and unputdownable. I was a bit concerned that I would not be able to read this book at night time ( I am not a fan of going to sleep with gruesome images in my head) but I didn’t have to worry. Yes, the murders were gruesome and completely unsympathetic to the victim but the writing was compelling. Saying that, I did manage to read most of this in a couple of days so didn’t have to contend with much night time reading…

This novel is weird, very well written, slightly macabre and rather disturbing. This violent man, Harper, stumbles on this house which draws on his inner nature to  kill woman for their ‘shine’.And through many decades through time travel via this very house. What I did find rather disappointing is that you never really find out  the ‘why’ of this . (I like to know the why of the weirdness, does that make sense?)

Kirby, the victim who survives her attack is  sarcastic(her coping mechanism for her trauma) and determined to track down her would be killer. I liked the portrayal of her and especially when Dan comes onto the scene. I enjoyed the sceptism of Dan as Kirby discovers the impossible, his growing feelings for Kirby and when is disbelief is suspended when they work together to catch Harper.

The ending was not sufficient for me, I was a tad disappointed but yet, I can also see the full circle effect and well, you will have to read it as I don’t want to give too much away, the creepiness of the ending.

Lauren Beukes has definitely entered the world of not just a South African author, if her other work has not put her on the world map already, this certainly will!

Read it if you dare….



Around Madagascar on my kayak – a review

Riaan Manser does it again!

I am sure that he must have some sort of crazy in him in order to do these adventures! There is no way, you would find me kayaking around an island all by my lonesome…

but what an awesome book and story. The only thing that I can say negatively about it is that it just ends far to quickly! You get completely caught up in the adventure, this is truly armchair travel at its best, and before you know it, Riaan has made it to his finish point and the reader is left adrift.

So, what to tell you about this book? Firstly, if you enjoy true stories, adventure ones at that, then this is a must read. Secondly, he does what it says on the cover, goes around Madagascar on a Kayak and thirdly, Riaan’s writing is wonderful. Sucks you in and gushes you right back out at the end. The experiences that he has, some not so lekker and others awe inspiring really do just make you realise that most of us, like our creature comforts a little too much to go off adventuring like that;-)

I am very glad that I still have one more book of his left to read, Around Iceland on Inspiration. Thank goodness for that!

(Keep an eye out for an exclusive interview with the man himself..!)

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Requiem – Lauren Oliver (the last installment of the Delirium series)

I have been keeping an eye on my local Exclusive Books for the elusive copy of this book and after eventually deciding to ask the sales person WHEN it would be arriving in store, was told that only the hard cover would be available and they would need to order it in. Then she came back to me to say hold on a minute she may have a copy and well, luckily she did, soft back and not to dear on the wallet either thank goodness…

For my reviews on the first two books go here and here

I was really looking forward to reading this!  But I have to admit to being a little disappointed in the ending. Maybe she has ended it this way so there is possibility for more sequels but I think it could of had a little more oomph in the ending and not leave it ‘hanging’ per se.

I definitely preferred the first two books in the series, the last one was interesting and I still had the ‘want to read’ feeling but I just felt like it didn’t deliver, but saying that, I did enjoy it and though I was expecting a little more from the love triangle in which she ended Pandemonium it was still a fun read and I would recommend reading the entire series. If only for the premise of the book. It really does make some sort of sense in a weird sort of way.

Have you read it? What did you think?


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Around Africa on my Bicycle – Riaan Manser – a review

I am sure that if you follow me on FB or twitter, you know that I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Let me tell you a bit more about it…

I went book shopping a little while ago in one of my favourite second hand bookshops and I found it in the travel section, i often look in the travel because though I don’t do much of it myself, I do enjoy reading about others that have. Not all of them mind you, I like the quirky and interesting travel books, I remember one that I read a good many years ago called Around Ireland with a fridge, again I thoroughly enjoyed it. So, when I discovered this tome of a book, it was a given that it was coming home with me!

What I didn’t realise was that Riaan Manser was the very same man who went around Iceland on a Kayak, imagine my delight when I found out it was! I fell further in love with this intrepid traveller…

Firstly, I have to say, that I could never travel around Africa on a bicycle, the main reason being is that I cannot ride a bicycle, well, not very well and definitely not through terrain like Riaan had to traverse. So, why did I enjoy this book so much, that it even inspired me to go searching google and find him so that I could request an interview?

My first and foremost reason, is that he travelled Africa. Yes, I am born and bred South African but I have not travelled further than the Eastern Cape. I have not had the pleasure of meeting ‘real African wild life’ (bar from the animals that I see on the game farm on the way to and from my daughter’s school – including a zebra which seems to have come out of hiding and elephants at Addo), I haven’t experienced ‘African Food’ and the people of Africa are of such a wide array, I can honestly see why we are called the Rainbow Nation.

but he did, and on a bicycle no less!

36 500 kilometers and 34 countries,with experiences that most of us would cringe at.  I have the utmost respect and admiration for someone who can put away the creature comforts of our Western civilisation, go it alone and appreciate each and every one of his experiences. And experiences he had, many of them, which personally I think could shape ones internal life, spiritual and physical.

“Here I seemed to understand things about myself and the world itself that I had never understood or even thought of before. Like finding the places to put difficult puzzle pieces of a giant puzzle. nothing flashy happens but inside you know and understand that the puzzle is nearly completed. I don’t think it could have happened anywhere else on the planet.” – Riaan Manser.

Travelling from the V&A waterfront all along the coast line and coming back into Cape Town again, Riaan met many people on his journey, both good and bad and what I really enjoyed about this book is that he doesn’t hold back on spilling the beans on the ‘bad’ people. Both sides are mentioned but it is refreshing to see that usually kindness wins out on the most part. With a good few terrifying experiences, Riaan faces many of his fears in his determination to circumnavigate Africa.

It is a truly inspirational read and I urge to find yourself a copy and get stuck into its 700 pages, for South Africans and non South Africans alike, this will open your eyes to our country and its vast array of different people who inhabit it.

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The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard Morais

Oh my hat, what a delicious book this was!

I received it via the Book Blogger Secret Santa from and she hit the nail on the head for her choice in books. I Loved it!

What is it about?

Hassan is born and raised in India in the kitchen, where his family has a restaurant. Surrounded by food and smells of India, Hassan has an inate ability to know how to cook food. When tragedy strikes the family leaves India and start a journey of eating around the world, finally settling in Lumiere in France.

And so begins Hassan’s journey from Indian cooking to French cooking, a hundred foot journey to be precise but yet so much longer than that.

This novel is about family, adventure, leaving the safety net of home and embracing change, and food. Much food. In fact, don’t be reading this book hungry because you will be ravenous within a couple of pages…

Have you read it? What did you think?

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